Online Love Traps: The Victims and Masterminds Speak Out

A fairy tale turned horror story!

It happened to Notre Dame Football star Manti Te’o, but he is not the only one.

Imagine meeting someone online with whom you instantly connect. You communicate through instant messages, Facebook conversations, emails and maybe even phone calls. Does it sounds too good to be true? It may be. While the story of Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o is dramatic and bizarre, being deceived online is not uncommon. Nev Schulman, an original “Catfish” victim and host of MTV’s Catfish, tells Katie this happens all the time.

“This is an escape for people.” -Nev Schulman

Manti Te’o’s story has left a lot of people wondering why anyone would create a fake identity to lure someone on the Internet. 20-year-old Chelsea Browning from Tuscaloosa, Alabama understands because she has done it herself.

“I kind of got to feel like loved…or accepted for who I was.” -Chelsea Browning

Lying online is everywhere. By some estimates, one out of every ten profiles on the Internet is fake. 51-year-old Debbie Best from Butte, Montana found that out the hard way. Last May, she thought she’d met the man of her dreams, but after just a few months he turned into a nightmare.

“I wanted to be in love.” -Debbie Best

How do you protect yourself from an online dating scam? Nev Schulman decodes the complicated world of online dating and New York City’s Maria Coder and author of Investidate: How to Investigate Your Date shares tools you can use to avoid becoming Catfish bait.

“Always do a criminal check.” -Maria Coder

If you’re dating online (and a lot of you are because online dating sites get more than 500 million clicks every month) you’ve probably fudged a little here and there to make yourself sound or look better. In fact, a recent study found that 81% of people lie on their online profiles – men mostly about their height and women about their weight. We wanted to see how our studio audience would react if they found themselves on the other end of a little cyber lie.

Manti Te’o is living through the perils of online dating in the spotlight. Bestselling author and columnist for ESPN.com Rick Reilly and Notre Dame Student Body President Brett Rocheleau give us their take on Katie’s interview with Manti Te’o.

“The mood on campus is everyone believes Manti.” -Brett Rocheleau

Now it’s time for “Your Take on Te’o.” You Tweeted, you emailed, you posted and we listened. Here are some of the things you had to say:

Vote: When does lying online become a deal breaker?

How To Protect Yourself From Online Dating Scams

Watch: Why Are Online Dating Hoaxers Called “Catfish”?
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Read an Excerpt from “InvestiDate: How to Investigate Your Date”

See the Photos: The People at the Center of Online Hoaxes
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Let’s Talk: Do you have a catfish story?

Liked Katie’s outfit? Check out her entire look:
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Tune In To Katie!

Join the Conversation!