A spectacular hoax involving a popular college football player's fake dead girlfriend has put a spotlight on a practive known as "catfishing." News broke this week that Notre Dame's linebacker Manti Te'o was duped into an online relationship with a person who didn't exist. In downtown Chico, people say they know stories in which their friends or relatives have been deceived. One man named Andy says his father has experimented with online dating, and was surprised to show up on dates to find the woman had lied about her appearance. Garret says his mom was catfished by his dad. "My mom used to be on AOL and go into chat rooms and talk to different men, and my dad got jealous, so he createda fake profile and went in there and talked to her to find out what she said. They're divorced now."
If it could happen to a football stud like Manti, being the victim of a catfishing scam could probably happen to anyone. But there are steps a person can take to avoid being deceived. First, google your love interest's name in quotation marks. They do a deep search through google's "Deeper Web." Finally, drag the person's profile picture into google's image search, and see what comes up. The 2010 movie "Catfish" brought internet deception into the mainstream, and that produced a spin-off reality show on MTV.