When a Catfishing Nightmare Becomes a Dream Romance

She was tricked by man using model's photos; then she met the model
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2017 7:18 PM CDT
When a Catfishing Nightmare Becomes a Dream Romance
Stock image   (Getty Images/Martin Dimitrov)

This tale of loneliness, catfishing, Turkish models, and, yes, love sounds like it should have been written by Nicholas Sparks or star Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, but it's true and absolutely engrossing. French-born Emma Perrier, 33, was living outside London, struggling with English and heartbroken over a recent breakup, when she joined dating app Zoosk in summer 2015. "I'm a romantic," Perrier tells the Atlantic. "I love to love. And I want to be loved too." Soon she struck up an online romance with Ronaldo Scicluna, a 34-year-old electrician who looked like a high-school crush of hers. She couldn't believe Scicluna was interested in her. “I mean, I’m nothing. I’m very simple you know," Perrier says. "So I was flattered.”

But Scicluna was the fictional creation of 53-year-old Alan Stanley, who used the persona, complete with photos copped from a model he found on Google, to flirt with women online. “I was in a pretty lonely place,” Stanley says. He didn't see the big deal—"Everybody does catfishing"—but Perrier was devastated when she discovered the truth after nearly a year. She tracked down the model, 35-year-old Adem Guzel, whose photos had captivated her in order to warn him about Stanley. "I wasn’t sure if getting in touch with you was a good idea but I needed you to know," she wrote to Guzel. Something about the message touched Guzel, and he responded. "And the conversation just started," he says. But that's not the end of the story for Perrier, Guzel, or Stanley, who fought to keep from losing the woman he tricked to the man he impersonated. Read the full thing here. (More Longform stories.)

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