Mexico aims to extradite drug lord Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman to the United States after security forces recaptured the fugitive cartel leader.
He blew his cover through a series of slip ups, including an attempt to make a movie about his life.
The Mexican Attorney General’s office will be working as fast as possible to establish the path to extradition, and Chapo could be sent to the United States by mid-year, a source familiar with the situation said on Saturday.
However the timing might depend on injunctions filed by Guzman’s legal team.
Guzman, the world’s top drug smuggler and boss of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, is wanted by US authorities on a host of criminal charges.
His organisation has smuggled billions of dollars worth of drugs into the United States and is blamed for thousands of deaths in Mexico and the United States due to addiction and gang warfare.
Guzman’s dramatic capture in the town of Los Mochis on Friday followed a six month-long intelligence operation during which the drug lord relaxed his security just enough to allow authorities to pick up his trail.
Among his errors, Guzman got in touch with people in the film industry to have them make a “biopic” movie of his eventful life journey from rural poverty to untold wealth and dramatic jailbreaks.
“Another important aspect which helped locate him was discovering Guzman’s intention to have a biographical film made. He contacted actresses and producers, which was part of one line of investigation,” Mexico’s Attorney General Arely Gomez said.
Perhaps more importantly, Gomez said security forces also identified a expert in digging tunnels in Guzman’s circle who was outfitting houses in the states of Sinaloa and Sonora.
Authorities caught wind of that and began carefully watching a house in Los Mochis, Sinaloa.
They spotted unusual activity when a vehicle pulled up before dawn on January 7, and intelligence officials confirmed Guzman was on the property.
A raid followed.
Mexican Marines chased Guzman and his chief hitman through a drain and then nabbed them as he tried to flee by car.
The United States requested Guzman’s extradition in late June, just a couple of weeks before his brazen escape from a maximum security prison through a mile-long tunnel which burrowed right up through the floor of his cell.
The failure to extradite him before his elaborate jailbreak strained relations with the United States.
Sending Guzman to the United States would help allay fears the drug lord could use his massive fortune to bribe prison officials and escape from a Mexican maximum security jail yet again.
Though the US Drug Enforcement Administration and US Marshals helped in the recapture, American officials have taken no credit and instead lavished praise on Mexico.
Easing weather conditions are helping firefighters battle the blaze that has killed two people and destroyed more than 140 properties.
But the Department of Fire and Emergency Services says the threat still remains.
Fire crews in Western Australia are describing the massive bushfire in the state’s southwest as “contained but not controlled”.
Calmer weather conditions have been a welcome reprieve for firefighters entering their sixth day of battling the blaze which has burnt more than 70,000 hectares of land.
The bushfire was sparked by lightning last Wednesday morning.
An emergency warning in place for east of Waroona, Hamel, Yarloop and surrounding areas has now been downgraded to ‘watch and act’.
Damon Childs, from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, says favourable conditions have led to the downgrade.
“Fortunately we’ve had better weather conditions in the last couple of days and that’s assisted firefighting operations. We’ve also had a chance to contain the fires so we’ve got containment lines around the fire and we still have some areas that have uncontrolled fire but they are contained so there’s no real danger. So we could downgrade the alerts to a watch and act in certain areas and some others have even come down as low as an all clear and other ones in between are an advice.”
Easing conditions also saw the alert level drop to advice for Preston Beach and Lake Clifton including the Waroona townsite.
An advice alert remains in place for Pamelup Estate to Binningup townsite, including the townsite of Myalup.
Four firefighters have been injured, while a New South Wales contingent, including 60 firefighters, is now assisting fatigued local crews.
Volunteers who battled to save the town of Yarloop have used social media to defend themselves from criticism that residents were not adequately warned of the danger.
But Yarloop resident Alan Coleman, who was inside his home just minutes before the flames hit, says people should’ve been given more warning.
“Very frightening, it was scary. The fire was just roaring all the time, the house on the corner caught fire, just helped my neighbours out, got them on the oval. And yeah, everything went wrong.”
Authorities have also discovered two bodies in Yarloop of men aged 73 and 77, who are believed to have died in the blaze.
Meanwhile, a number of major roads in the area remain closed raising concerns about food supplies to the southwest.
Local MP Murray Cowper says the road closures could be felt as far as supermarkets in Perth and other towns, with market gardeners struggling to get their produce through.
Mr Cowper says milk supplies may also run short, as major dairy suppliers in the Harvey area were forced to dump milk.
Store owners, like Colin Bell in the town of Binningup, have been allowed through roadblocks after running critically low on supplies.
“We’ve run out at a lot of stores and we can’t top the shop up, they wouldn’t let the trucks in this week to supply the community with the goods, so yeah, we’re just doing what we can do.”
Fire crews are hoping for better news as stable weather conditions are expected over the next few days, before high temperatures and strong winds once again take hold.
People are reluctant to change their unhealthy lifestyle choices even when they know they could contribute to them getting cancer, new research has found.
Four out of five smokers are not willing to kick the habit to reduce their risk of getting the disease, according to a study revealing “worrying attitudes” towards the disease.
Fifty-one per cent refused to lose weight while 60 per cent said they would not give up sunbathing or tanning beds, Merseyside NHS Trust and The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust Foundation found.
While a recent study advised 90 per cent of cancers are caused by external factors, the study found people were willing to take a gamble with their health.
Of the 2010 people asked whether they would change their lifestyles to reduce their risk of cancer, just 20 per cent of the 585 smokers said they would quit.
Fifty-nine per cent were not willing to drink less, 34 per cent would not opt for a healthier diet and 54 per cent said they would not be willing to get a good night’s sleep.
Fourteen per cent said they would not change anything to reduce their risk of cancer.
Dr Peter Kirkbride, medical director of The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust, said: “A healthier lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of developing cancer as well as improving general health and wellbeing.
“Eating better, moving more, drinking less alcohol and reducing sun exposure will mean you’re much less likely to develop cancer, and smokers can get lots of support to help them quit.”
The survey also revealed a “glaring lack of knowledge” about recognising the symptoms of cancer – despite 64 per cent having direct experience of the disease, researchers said.
More than half (54 per cent) of people said they would not recognise the early signs of breast cancer, which the study said was “frighteningly low”.
And more than 90 per cent said they would not recognise symptoms of other common cancers including pancreatic, ovarian and uterine (womb) cancers.
Dr Kirkbride said: “Recognising early symptoms of cancer could save your life – the sooner you’re diagnosed and start treatment, the better the outcome – but this survey has revealed that many people just don’t know what warning signs to look out for.
“On top of this, there are many types of cancer that people haven’t heard of at all. Cancer can occur anywhere in the body.
“It’s really important that we all do what we can to reduce our chances of developing cancer by leading healthier lifestyles – and that people know what symptoms to look out for and consult a healthcare professional if they develop them.
“Early diagnosis and early treatment helps save lives.”
The suspected killer of former EastEnders actress Sian Blake remains in custody and could be brought before a court in Ghana on Monday.
Arthur Simpson-Kent, 48, was reportedly eating a coconut on a beach when he was arrested on Saturday after he was “smoked from a thicket” where he had been hiding and arrested by armed police.
He left the country following the deaths of his former partner and their two young sons, Zachary, eight, and four year-old Amon.
British police said they will make a formal request for his extradition “in due course”.
The Ghanaian authorities cannot hold a suspect for more than 48 hours without putting him before a court, so it is likely Simpson-Kent will go before a judge on Monday and that police will apply to have him remanded in custody.
At a news conference in Ghana’s capital Accra yesterday, Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Gwyn, of the Metropolitan Police’s homicide and major crime command, heaped praise on the “outstanding” work of the Ghanaian authorities.
He said: “I want to pass on my thanks from myself and Scotland Yard and the UK authorities for all the work the Ghanaians have done for us in effecting an arrest.
“The second thing is our thoughts continue to, and always do remain with, Sian’s family and the boys, this is why we are here, this is why we do what we do, and we are here to get justice for them.”
Pictures broadcast on BBC News showed Simpson-Kent with his hands cuffed behind his back being paraded in front of cameras and journalists in the West African country.
British police have faced criticisms that their murder investigation has been blighted with delays.
But Gwyn insisted that “there is nothing we or the Ghanaians could have done any quicker to get out here as quickly as we could”.
An international manhunt was launched for the former model turned hairdresser after he went missing following the death of his girlfriend and children.
Blake and her two sons were last seen on December 13.
Their bodies were eventually discovered by police three weeks later buried in the garden of their home in Erith, Kent.
It later emerged that Simpson-Kent left the country after officers spoke to him on December 16.
The case was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission for investigation.
Unidentified aircraft attacked an Islamic State convoy on Sunday near the Libyan city of Sirte, a resident told Reuters.
The coastal city has been controlled for months by the militant group, which has used it as a base from which to try to expand its presence in Libya.
The witness account could not be verified, and the air force allied to one of Libya’s competing governments, based in the east of the country, said it had not carried out any strikes.
Also on Sunday, a spokesman for the Petroleum Facilities Guard said three boats had tried to attack the oil port of Zueitina.
The guards repelled the attack before the boats reached the port, hitting one of the vessels and setting it on fire, Ali al-Hassi said.
He said Islamic State militants were suspected of carrying out the attack.
Earlier this week Islamic State launched an assault on the major Libyan oil terminals of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, which lie between Zueitina and Sirte.
Clashes over three days left 18 guards dead and more than 50 injured, Hassi said on Sunday, giving an updated toll.
They also triggered fires at seven oil storage tanks that were later extinguished.
Zueitina oil port was closed in November in a move linked to the wider dispute between Libya’s rival governments.
The export terminals at Es Sider and Ras Lanuf have been closed since December 2014.
The UN is currently trying to win support for a plan to form a national unity government, though it has faced resistance from factions on the ground.
Islamist militants have taken advantage of a security vacuum that developed as numerous rival groups have competed for power and for Libya’s oil wealth since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011.
The brother of a Vietnam veteran, believed to be one of two people killed in a bushfire that destroyed 128 homes in the West Australian town of Yarloop, does not blame authorities.
Bruce Taylor tried a few times to call his 77-year-old brother, Les, before the blaze tore through the town on Thursday night, but could not get through. Mr Taylor said his brother had not been in good health and may have been asleep when the bushfire ripped through Yarloop.
“I don’t think there’s any cause for blame on the death of my brother, I think it’s just a sad circumstance,” he told 6PR radio on Monday.
WA bushfire costs climb to $60 million
The cost of deadly Western Australian bushfires has climbed to $60 million and the figure is expected to rise, according to insurers.
The Insurance Council of Australia says several hundred calls have been made to insurers following bushfires that killed two people and razed 143 properties in the state’s southwest. The shires of Waroona and Harvey have been hardest hit and the town of Yarloop decimated in bushfires that continue to rage since they were sparked by lightning on Wednesday.
“Insured losses are now estimated at $60 million and are continuing to rise. More detailed figures will be released later in the week,” Insurance Council of Australia said in a statement on Monday.
Bushfires contained but not controlled
Easing weather conditions are helping firefighters battle the bushfire that has killed two people and razed 143 properties in Western Australia’s southwest.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services says the fire, which has burned more than 70,000 hectares, has raged since it was sparked by lightning on Wednesday morning.
An emergency warning in place for east of Waroona, Hamel, Yarloop and surrounding areas was downgraded on Monday morning to watch and act.
The fire is now contained but not controlled.
They’ve been fighting the monstrous #WAbushfire for days.The word exhaustion probably doesn’t cover it. Pic:Lucy Dev pic.twitter杭州桑拿会所,/rxqAVHqVXS
— Claire Grantham10 (@claire_grantham) January 10, 2016
Favourable conditions also saw the alert level drop to advice for Preston Beach and Lake Clifton including the Waroona townsite.
An advice alert remains in place for Pamelup Estate to Binningup townsite including the townsite of Myalup.
Four firefighters have been injured, while a NSW contingent, including 60 firefighters, is now assisting fatigued local crews.
Volunteers who battled to save Yarloop have used social media to defend themselves from criticism that residents were not adequately warned of the danger.
“We were left by the hierarchy to defend our town on our (own), unfortunately we lost,” the brigade posted on Facebook.
“To those of you who want to whinge that we weren’t there, be thankful you have a house left, I and most of my fellow firies and townspeople don’t.”
Deadly WA bushfires seen from space
Smoke produced from the deadly bushfires in Western Australia’s South West can be seen clearly from space, with a NASA satellite capturing an image of smoke billowing into the Indian and Southern Oceans.
The image was captured by the NASA Suomi NPP satellite on Thursday, with the smoke cloud seen to be stretching hundreds of kilometres into the ocean.
The lightning-sparked bushfire has killed two people and destroyed more than 143 properties in the Shires of Waroona and Harvey, burning through 72,600 hectares.
Third missing person found safe after two deaths
A third person feared missing in a bushfire, south of Perth, has been found alive.
Work continues to formally identify two elderly men suspected of being killed in the blaze that tore through Yarloop and destroyed at least 128 homes.
West Australian Police said it was possible further missing person reports could be made as time went on.
They’re urging all residents from fire-affected areas to register with the Australian Red Cross.
Human remains, believed to belong to two men aged 73 and 77, were found at two burnt-out homes in Yarloop on Saturday evening.
Malcolm Taylor is believed to be one of the men.
A family member told AAP that no one had heard from him since Thursday evening before the blaze ravaged the small town, which has a population of 545.
When she last spoke with the 73-year-old, who requires a hearing aid, he said he was going to stay at his house.
“He goes to bed early, around 7.30pm, so we’re worried that he turned off his hearing aid and went to sleep and then the houses went up so quickly,” she said.
“If Malcolm was all right, he would have rung someone by now.”
The family had also seen footage on the news of Mr Taylor’s razed house and the remains of his burnt-out car.
Opposition leader Mark McGowan tweeted his support for the victims late on Saturday night: “Terrible news tonight of lives lost in the South West fires. Thoughts are with family, friends and neighbours of those tragically taken.”
Premier Colin Barnett visited one of the evacuation centres on Saturday.
An emergency warning remains in place for a large part of the region, including east of Waroona, Hamel, Yarloop and surrounding areas.
But more favourable conditions has seen the alert level drop to a watch and act for some areas including Waroona, Harvey, Cookernup, Preston Beach and Lake Clifton.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services says forecast weather conditions are expected to assist firefighters on Sunday, but the blaze is still uncontained and uncontrolled.
At least 143 properties, including the 128 houses in Yarloop, have been destroyed, including sheds, caravans and community buildings.
Disaster assistance will be available for victims under the jointly-funded Commonwealth-State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.
Four firefighters have been injured battling the blaze, while 60 firefighters, five paramedics and three management support staff from NSW are assisting local crews battling fatigue.
Several roads and recreation sites remain closed, with dairy farmers forced to dump thousands of litres of milk.
Nicole Ferraro said her father and brothers stayed to defend their properties and managed to save most of the herd, their homes and dairy, while the rest of the farm suffered “a blackened fate”.
“For the short term, their main focus is the well-being of the animals, keeping the cows milked and fed, as well as the supply of diesel which is needed to run the generator to keep the dairy operational and the milking herd healthy,” she wrote on Facebook.
Western Power says thousands of properties remain without power but burnt trees and debris in danger of collapsing must be cleared before crews can rebuild the network.
About 835 people have registered at two evacuation centres.
People wanting to help can make monetary donations through the Lord Mayor’s Distress Relief Fund and the state government has already committed $1 million.
The number of alleged crimes potentially involving people’s use of dating apps Tinder and Grindr increased more than sevenfold in two years – including reports of rape, grooming and attempted murder.
Just 55 reports of crimes in England and Wales mentioned Grindr or Tinder in 2013, according to figures released to the Press Association under the Freedom of Information Act.
This jumped to 204 in 2014 and 412 in the year to October 2015, according to the 30 police forces who gave figures.
There were 277 crime reports in which Tinder was mentioned in 2015 – up from 21 in 2013. And 135 alleged crimes in which Grindr was mentioned were recorded in 2015, up from 34 reported in 2013.
Tinder is used predominantly by heterosexual daters while Grindr is a gay dating app.
Reports of violent and sexual crimes were the most common, with 253 allegations of violence against the person and 152 reports of sex offences, including grooming, rapes and the sexual exploitation of children.
Andy Phippen, professor of social responsibility in IT at Plymouth University, said it was a “growing problem, particularly around sextortion-type activities”.
He said: “If we are going to base the formation of a relationship on a photo and a few lines of text, how do we know that person is who they say they are and they have the right intentions?
“And there will be people who are using these apps to coerce and groom children, sadly.”
An NSPCC spokesman warned that some children are being groomed online.
He said: “Dating apps are, by their very nature, not safe online spaces for children. It’s all too easy for children to say they are older, or for an adult to pretend to be younger.”
The National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead on violence and public protection, Deputy Chief Constable of Merseyside Police Andy Cooke, said: “The rising popularity of online dating apps and websites has contributed to an increase in the number of recorded crimes.”
The figures come from police reports where the apps are mentioned in the crime report and does not automatically mean the app was used directly by the criminal.
But there have been documented cases in which they were.
Last August, Daniel Edwards and his partner Kristofer Wagner, from Gloucester, were jailed for blackmail after threatening to expose a married man they met on Grindr.
And former teacher Gary Pearce, from Sidcup in Kent, was jailed for five years last September for grooming a 14-year-old boy he met on Grindr.
Grindr and Tinder did not reply to requests for a comment.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index skidded to 4,880.
1 at 1120 AEDT, its lowest point since July 2013, before rallying back above 4,900 soon after.
The resource and energy sectors are the hardest hit after another tumble in commodity prices.
Oil players Santos and Origin are down more than four per cent, while mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto have also lost more than four per cent.
The banks are also well down, with best performer ANZ down 1.33 per cent.
IG market analyst Angus Nicholson said that whether the market finished above the 4,910 level cited by analysts as a possible floor for stocks could be crucial for investor sentiment.
“Everyone’s going to want to see a close above that but on top of that is whether we start to see some consistent intervention by the chinese government in the FX and equity markets,” Mr Nicholson said.
“If we do start seeing that today and tomorrow, that might start changing investor perception and perhaps bring a bit more buying to the market.”
The continued selloff in Australia comes after Wall street ended a volatile week with its worst five-day start to a year ever.
“It’s looking like a pretty messy open as things are slowly unwinding,” Mr Nicholson said, adding that IG Markets expected a drop of about 1.4 per cent for the day.
The big four banks were all in negative territory, with Commonwealth Bank down 86 cents, or 1.08 per cent, at $78.56, and National Australia Bank down 32 cents, or 1.15 per cent, at $27.40.
ANZ dropped 22 cents, or 0.86 per cent, to $25.32, and Westpac was down a relatively modest 17.5 cents, or 0.56 per cent, to $30.82.
BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were hit again, with both mining giants declining more than 3.5 per cent as the price of iron ore continued to fall. BHP was down 60 cents, or 3.67 per cent, at $15.75, while Rio was down $1.65, or 3.94 per cent, at $40.25.
The energy sector’s woes continued, with Santos down 9.0 cents, or 2.66 per cent, to $3.29, and Oil Search, Orora and Woodside Petroleum showing similar declines.
Shares in iSelect slumped 33 cents, or 30 per cent, to 77 cents after the comparison website sharply cut its full year EBIT guidance to $15-$18 million, from $26 million.
“That’s quite shocking, the fact they’re reporting such errors in their management,” Mr Nicholson said.
“It looks like quite a lot of mismanagement going on there and investors are pounding it at the open.”
Key facts:At 1200 AEDT on Monday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 83 points, or 1.66 per cent, at 4,907.8 pointsThe broader All Ordinaries index was down 82.4 points, or 1.63 per cent, at 4,967.4 pointsThe March share price index futures contract was down 70 points at 4,860 points, with 23,152 contracts tradedAt 1216 AEDT, national turnover was 872 million securities traded worth $2 billion
Australian duo Cate Blanchett and George Miller will continue their hunt for Oscars glory when they compete for Golden Globes.
The Globes, set to begin at midday on Monday (AEDT) in Beverly Hills, are traditionally one of the big tests for Oscar campaigns and Blanchett and Miller need wins to give them a boost.
Another Australian, Ben Mendelsohn, is nominated for a TV supporting actor Globe for his role in the US drama series Bloodline.
Blanchett, a nine-time Globe nominee, and Miller, who surprisingly has been nominated for a Globe just once before, are not favourites for this year’s ceremony.
Blanchett is nominated for the dramatic actress trophy for her performance in Carol.
Bookmakers have her pegged as second favourite, with Brie Larson for Room the top pick to win the Globe and the Oscar on February 28.
Blanchett does have some backers, with her odds shortening, while one-time second pick Saoirse Ronan’s (Brooklyn) odds have drifted to third.
Prolific Australian filmmaker Miller has two nominations for Mad Max: Fury Road – directing and best dramatic picture.
Miller, despite a resume of award-winning films including Lorenzo’s Oil, Babe, Dead Calm, The Year My Voice Broke and Flirting, has failed to excite Globes’ voters, with his 2011 animated hit Happy Feet his only past Globe nomination.
This year Miller, along with Mad Max producing partners Doug Mitchell and PJ Vouten, is nominated for best dramatic picture, although Fury Road is considered a longshot, with Spotlight – based on the real story of how Boston Globe reporters uncovered a Catholic child abuse scandal – the favourite.
The Revenant and Carol are also considered stronger candidates.
Miller was the second favourite for directing behind Ridley Scott for The Martian, but the Australian’s odds have drifted with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant) moving into second place.
Competing with Mendelsohn for the Globe supporting actor in a TV series, movie or mini-series are: Damian Lewis (Wolf Hall); Christian Slater (Mr Robot); Alan Cumming (The Good Wife); and Tobias Menzies (Outlander).
The Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday.
“Catfishing” is suddenly in the news again, with reports that the University of Virginia gang rape scandal may have been rooted in a romantic scam.
At the heart of the scandal, according to documents filed in a lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine, was a troubled young woman who fell for a guy who failed to return her affections. Instead of moving on, the woman invented a fictitious upperclassman who claimed to be enamored with her – presumably with the hope of showing her real crush what he was missing. From there, reputations were ruined, a campus was roiled and national outrage ensued.
This phenomenon known as catfishing is a uniquely modern one: a single lie, enabled by the cloak of technology, that stretches, morphs and multiplies until whole personas are fabricated, emotions are manipulated and hearts are broken. So, why do they call it that again?
Let’s go back. Way back to 2010, when the term first entered the lexicon. It began with a documentary about a New York City man lured into an Internet relationship with an attractive 19-year-old woman in the Midwest. Or so he thought. When inconsistencies began to arise in the woman’s story, Nev Schulman, along with his brother and a filmmaker friend, traveled to Michigan to meet the woman, ultimately discovering that he’d been corresponding with a 40-year-old housewife all along.
It was that woman’s husband who inadvertently coined the phrase “catfish.” Sitting outside with his elbow perched on the back of a bench, he tells the filmmakers about live cod being transported from Alaska to China. During the journey the fish would become lethargic; by the time they arrived, he says, “their flesh was mush and tasteless.” But someone discovered that if catfish were put in the tanks, the cod would remain active. The man said he thanks God for people who play a similar role in life – those “who keep you on your toes, keep you thinking, keep you guessing.”
The victims of catfishing might not agree. The 2010 film spawned a popular MTV series that revealed how widespread the deceptions had become. The rise of the Internet, with its dating sites, chat rooms and virtual-reality simulators, enabled people to become whoever they wanted to be – at least for a while. Don’t like the way you look? Download a headshot of a fashion model and make that your profile pic. Have a crappy job? Not anymore. You’re now an esteemed artist (whose works you pilfered from an online gallery.) Whatever you dreamed, you could become (or at least pretend to be). And you could convince others it was the truth.
Lies told in the name of romance are nothing new. (See the 1969 film “The Honeymoon Killers,” based on an infamous series of true-life romantic scams from the 1940s.) But the modern need for human connection, even at the cost of honesty, is especially sad. Many of the perpetrators of catfishing don’t believe they can be loved as they truly are. It is only through lies that they can have the relationships they so deeply desire.
In one of the most famous instances of catfishing, former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o publicly mourned the death of his girlfriend throughout the fall of 2012. Until, that is, he found out she never existed. “This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about,” he said at the time. “But over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her. To realise that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.”
Catfishing frequently involves a story about a tragic disease or a long-distance deployment or a stint in rehab. Anything to prevent the person on the other end of the deception from insisting on a face-to-face meeting. Because then it all blows up.
But it almost always blows up anyway.
With the U-Va. case, the only difference is that it came with a kind of mushroom cloud of devastation rarely seen before. This unrequited freshman crush ultimately resulted in the duping of a professional journalist and waves of public outrage as the young woman’s story was told – and then peeled back to a pit of deceit.
Surely she didn’t know how big and ruinous her lie would become. But then, one never does.
Ellen McCarthy is a feature writer for Style. She is the author of ‘The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook.’