PROVO, Utah (CNN) — It’s called catfishing; a scam, where people create fake, online personas using fake names, and pictures. Manti Teo, the former Notre Dame, and current San Diego linebacker, is likely the most famous victim of the practice. He had carried on a relationship with a person online, whom he had never met.
As many as eight women at Brigham Young University say they too have been victimized by a serial catfish.
Hilary Hayes says last year she began a relationship with a person who said his name was Hunter Anderson. He contacted her out of the blue, saying he’d seen her at a party. For months the pair talked on the phone and sent text back and forth, but Hayes says once she tried to meet Hunter, he always had an excuse for why he couldn’t.
“It was just really sketchy,” said Hayes who began to investigate what was, “really going on,” with Anderson. What she found is “Hunter was carrying on digital relationships with as many as eight different girls at BYU, but was actually using the name, “Hyrum Young.” Whitley Smith was one of them.
“It was one of those friendships that like, ‘Oh wow, we click this is great,’ ” said Smith. Sara Vanwagenen had also been in a two-year digital relationship with Young.
“I let this person into my life in a really big way,” says Vanwagenen. “I was really angry and really hurt.”
The girls all began to compare notes, and what they discovered, is Anderson, or Young was not from Utah, and, not even a male. They found that they had all been duped by a 24-year-old woman named Kayla, who told them she was coming out as gay and was essentially practicing on these young women.
All the women say they are hurt, not so much because they had developed strong feelings for the faker, but because they had shared so much with her.
“She just knew everything about me it was just really hurtful to find out that you literally didn’t know anything about this person, not even something so foundational as their name,” said Hayes.