Hello Nev and Melissa,
I am an avid follower of your show and thought your movie was fantastic! I am not the victim directly of a catfish, nor am I the catfisher, however I am indirectly used to catfish others.
I am an internet model by the name of Nikki Sims as can be seen on the website NikkiSims.com (formerly Nikkisplaymates.com). The downside to being an internet model is that you become famous, but not famous enough. A lot of people know me, sure, but there are plenty of people that don’t and these people end up becoming victims of horribly involved scams. Some even end up losing thousands of dollars. Because my photos are all over the internet along with some of my private details, catfishers will use this information to lure naive individuals into believing one of many stories. The range from “me” being stuck in another country such as Ghana and will ask them for money to get “me” home to the US; a family member is sick and in another country and “I” need money for medical bills; or even that “I” am being held against my will in another country and will only be allowed to leave if I can gather a specific amount of money”. Some even say that “I” am the victim of a scam operation because “I” quit working for my site years ago and it’s being run by someone else and “I” don’t get any of the money….no part of that is true.
The interactions usually start by the catfisher finding a random person through a dating site or direct email contact. They start with normal conversation and continue until the victim has fallen in love with “me”, then the problems start and the requests for money begin. They promise the victims that when it’s all over they will return to the US and be together, some victims even claim that they are already engaged or married to “me” which is completely false. Usually after several failed attempts at “coming home” or when the communication suddenly ends, the victims start searching and find the real me. They find my Twitter or email and then the flood of messages come in. “Bertha (or Rita, or Christine, or Sarah….) why don’t you talk to me anymore” or “You’re a fake an a scammer, I know the real Nikki, she lives in ________ state or country, and we’re in love!” or “I sent you the money you wanted, where did you go?” or even “I waited at the airport for you…what happened?” Some emails I get are from other countries where I don’t understand what it is that they are saying to me, but them calling me by another name and including a lot of question marks lets me know that they were scammed.
Of course I tell them all that they were never talking to me, I provide them with as much proof as I can, that I never call people on the phone I don’t know in real life, that I don’t Skype with anyone other than my family, that I don’t use Yahoo messenger, show them where the pictures they received came from, that I never randomly email people, that I’m already involved and would never tell someone we’d be married, that I live in Illinois, etc etc etc. Some people believe me right away and are appreciative that they finally know the truth. Some find me before they lose any money…others after. However, there are plenty of times where the victim is so convinced that the person they are talking to is the “real me” that there’s nothing I can do to help them.
It has become such a widespread epidemic that I opened up a site, notnikkisims.com, to combat the array of catfished people. On that site I have posted links to fake Facebook profiles, fake email addresses, links to fake advertisements on Backpage.com (they use my photos for bait and switch escort scams) and posted proof videos. I will be posting this email to you there as well. I have sent people fansigns with their name and the date on them to show them this is really me, emailed people and websites requesting that the false content be removed, DMCA’d and the problem still continues.
It’s not only my photos that are being used either, there are many, many, many, more models that are used in the same way.
A fellow colleague of mine, XOGisele was recently an inadvertent victim of a catfish scam when Thomas Gibson was duped by a fake Gisele:
Here is a link to a thread dedicated to catfished people using my photos and information to lure in individuals:
Or a simple Google search of “Nikki Sims Ghana” will pull up around 12 million results
You can see from my twitter, http://twitter.com/nikkisims the amount of trouble from fakers and scammers that gets brought to my attention. I have hundreds of emails from people that claim I stole their money or that I live in Ghana, or they claim to be married to me.
I am not sure if you are familiar with how widespread this issue is or if you will ever read this, but I would love to share my story with you and perhaps get the news out to people to think twice before they get in a relationship with someone from the internet. Catfish the TV Show really helps to let people know how often people lie on the Internet, but I don’t think people realize how deep it really goes.
Thank you for reading this,