I got catfished by Ricky Seals-Jones.
No, not the Sealy High School graduate, Texas A&M standout and Arizona Cardinals football player. This person was a fake. And I fell for it.
A few weeks ago, the real Ricky Seals-Jones had a great game against the Houston Texans, and upon the advice of our publisher, we posted a photo and note of congratulations to our Sealy News Facebook page. We like to honor our hometown boys and girls and make sure they remember where they came from.
So it wasn’t a total surprise when I checked my notifications last week and saw that Ricky Seals-Jones liked The Sealy News Facebook page. Cool! I made a mental note to pass that info along to our publisher. Heck, maybe he’d even be willing to do a phone interview. What a great story.
Then comes another notification. A friend request from none other than Ricky Seals-Jones. Super cool! His profile pic was him playing football, so that’s legit, right? I accepted.
Then came a message via Facebook messenger. “Hey, thanks for the add. I see that you work in Sealy and that you also went to A&M.”
So far, fairly believable. I do work in Sealy and I did go to A&M. He’s from Sealy and also went to A&M.
We went back and forth a little bit about the recent dismissal of A&M football coach Kevin Sumlin. He asked if A&M was any good back when I was in school. Then his messages became, let’s just say, flirtatious. Not obscene, but enough to get the red flags flying. I text messaged our sportswriter Tad Desai and said, “I think I’m getting catfished by Ricky Seals-Jones.”
After his astute reply (“… Huh?”) he did a little digging and found that my new Facebook friend was, in fact, not the real Ricky Seals-Jones.
I sent fake Ricky a message to let him know I was on to him, and since then his messages have been deleted by Facebook because they’ve been “marked abusive or identified as spam.”
Now that’s a really embarrassing way of saying I got duped. And I’m 40 years old and in a committed relationship and not really likely to fly across the country and get murdered in an Arizona hotel room. However, please bear in mind that social media is dangerous ground for predators. There are weird people who will prey on insecure girls who might be seeking attention.
It happens to smart people. It famously happened to Heisman Trophy contender Manti Te’o (Google it; I simply don’t have enough space to retell that story). There was a whole show on MTV about people faking an Internet identity to seduce someone online. It’s bizarre, but it does happen.
I’m an advocate for privacy. I get creeped out when people read my emails or dig through my purse, not because I have anything to hide, but because it’s MINE. However, when it comes to stuff like this, particularly if you have a teenage daughter, keep an eye on their online activity. They may be naïve and trusting, which is a precious thing in a child, but the consequences could be dire.
April Towery is the managing editor of The Sealy News. She can be reached at 979-885-3562 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.