A British woman has revealed how her catfishing story has an improbably happy ending after she found love with the male model whose identity had been stolen to dupe her.
In 2015, Emma Perrier, 33, was looking for love. She was still hurting from a recent breakup when she downloaded a matchmaking app called Zoosk – and snapped the three selfies the app required to “verify her identity.”
She soon got a private message from a dark-haired Italian named Ronaldo “Ronnie” Scicluna, who claimed to be a 34-year-old electrician who lived 100 miles away in England’s West Midlands.
She soon began exchanging messages with “Ronnie,” on WhatsApp — and was inundated with charming messages. But there was a problem: “Ronnie” did not exist. He was created by Alan Stanley, a balding 53-year-old shop fitter who lived alone in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Stanley told The Atlantic that he created an alter-ego character following a failed marriage, at a time when he was struggling with fearing rejection.
“I was in a pretty lonely place,” he said. “I wasn’t feeling the most attractive of people, I might say. You know, I always struggled with self-confidence and … I was going through a messy separation, and I was just feeling like I needed somebody to talk to.”
A spokesperson for Zoosk revealed that Stanley was able to dupe the app’s verification system by posting pictures of the male model from Google.
Catfishing, or creating false identities online to lure romantic partners, has become part of our cultural conversation in recent years — and become the subject of an MTV show.
Eventually the relationship between Perrier and “Ronnie” became serious — but she became suspicious when he kept finding excuses not to meet in person.
In the spring of 2016, she downloaded an app called Reverse Image Search. She was shocked when she uploaded a photo of her love interest, and the app confirmed that the man in the photographs was a male model and actor from Turkey named Adem Guzel.
Later she said that Ronnie sent her photos of some food taken on a trip to Italy that traced back to a Tripadvisor account in Stanley’s name. Perrier confronted Stanley, and he eventually confessed his lie.
She then decided to get in touch with Guzel in order to warn him that his identity had been stolen, and in September, she wrote him a message on Facebook.
But her love life was still complicated: She continued to communicate with Stanley, and in November he finally visited London. They met several times after that — though their recollections differ. He remembers the meetings romantically and infers they were intimate — she said she was merely pleased to meet him.
By January 2017, her attention had switched to Guzel. She began messaging the model regularly — and he agreed to meet her in London. In March, she finally sent Stanley a good-bye text message.
By April, Emma and Adam had fallen in love, and they are now living together in London. “My catfish became cupid,” she told the Daily Mirror. “And now we’re living happily ever after.”
She admitted that life isn’t perfect — since Turkey isn’t a member of the EU, Guzel is facing potential visa issues — but said that she is happy to have met her match and wishes Stanley happiness.
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Main photo: Emma Perrier and Adam Guzel [WhatsTrending / Facebook (screenshot)]