The one who called Catfish: Mike. He lives in Pensacola, Florida.
The Catfish: Caroline. Battling colon cancer. Likes to leave creepy notes. Also lives in Pensacola but always cancels when Mike wants to meet. Her camera is always broken. Claims she's got self esteem issues.
Mike and Caroline met on Plenty of Fish, and their personalities meshed well. They've talked on the phone but haven't video chatted. They've planned to meet but Caroline always backs out due to anxiety. At some point, she just disappeared and blamed it on her cancer treatment. Warning signs? I'd say yes.
Initially, Caroline said her name is Caroline Rhodes, but he found a public Facebook profile for Caroline Olivia Ledford. He reached out to Caroline Ledford but she never got back to her. However, Caroline had a story - she said Rhodes is her mom's maiden name and Ledford is her dad's name.
Caroline found out she had cancer eight months before filming. Mike connected with Caroline because his mom had the same type of cancer. Mike is now unable to socialize properly with other women because he's so invested in Caroline. And Caroline does creepy things - she had a friend drive by Mike's house and leave a note saying she can't wait to meet him. And she's taken pictures of Mike's place of employment. Creeeeepy!
When asked why he isn't giving up on this creepy and mysterious person, Mike said he's too invested.
Max and Nev checked out the two Caroline profiles. They decided to reach out to Caroline Ledford, as well as her friend Lauren. Nev and Max geotagged some of Caroline's photos - and they were uploaded in Pensacola.
Lauren gave Nev a call. Lauren said that her friend Caroline is from North Carolina and has never mentioned a Mike from Florida. Caroline Ledford also contacted Nev and Max, and she video chatted with the guys. She said she doesn't know a guy from Pensacola, Florida. She recorded a message for Mike letting him know that his Caroline isn't the real one.
Mike was devastated by the deception. Next, Nev and Max showed Mike where the picture was geotagged from, and it matched the address that Mike had for Caroline. He then admitted that he'd been outside her house and she refused to come out.
Nev and Max called Caroline. When Caroline answered the phone, she seemed shocked to hear from Nev and Max. When they asked her to video chat to prove who they are, she declined. They pressed for the truth and Caroline declined to disclose information. Caroline sounded shocked that Mike had seen the real Caroline, and Caroline on the phone started to cry and panic. She admitted she's scared to meet Mike. Nev and Max convinced her, and she said she'd meet them in a public place.
Nev and Max think that Mike and "Caroline" know each other, so she can't disclose his name, or she'd know who he is.
As Mike and the Catfish team waited in the park, Mike seemed to not entirely believe that Caroline would show up, based on past experience. However, a car did pull up - and a girl who is not Caroline got out. Mike knew her - her name is Heather. She'd pretended to be someone else on Plenty of Fish and Mike had called her out on it.
She broke down, cried and apologized. She said she and her friend made the fake profile to see if her friend's husband was cheating on her. Mike messaged the fake profile, and Heather confessed to the situation. She said Mike was really mean about it, so she made Heather's profile as revenge. But then she started to really like Mike. And the cancer thing? That was a scam because she felt Mike pulling away. She was afraid to confess the truth because she was really into Mike and wanted to keep him in her life.
Heather and Mike met to talk honestly. Heather admitted that her lie about cancer is awful, especially given that she's had family members who died from cancer. Heather explained that she doesn't let people in, and she was afraid to lose Mike because she'd opened up to him. She offered a genuine apology. Mike told Heather that she needs help for her issues. She didn't seem opposed to the idea. And with that, she left and cried in her car.
Nev and Max later told Mike to close his eyes and sat him in front of a computer screen. When he opened his eyes, the real Caroline was on the screen. The pair really hit it off! They agreed to be friends on Facebook.
In the end of episode catch-up, Heather admitted that she's taking care of herself - eating better, writing a blog and considering seeing a therapist. Mike said he's over the fake Caroline situation, but from it, he learned to be more cautious. He's been texting the real Caroline.
As much as many Catfish viewers probably hate Heather, I can't hate her. She seems so lost. She really does need help and friendship. And while she lied about terrible, awful things, she genuinely apologized and probably did the only thing she thought she could to not lose Mike. While I can never condone catfishing, I can give Heather credit for owning up to the truth and apologizing to Mike. It's just too bad she didn't do it much sooner.
Side note: Condolences to the family of Catfish participant Mike Fortunato, who passed away on October 12th from a pulmonary embolism.
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