Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Catfished in Camden

This is possibly one of the weirdest things to ever happen to me.

I had just moved to London, and being a bit lonely and wanting to get into the dating scene I tried doing the whole OKCupid thing. It was alright. I honestly wasn’t too active on it. I’d check my account a few times a week and message some profiles of girls that I thought were pretty. 95% of the time my messages would go unanswered. I’d guess it was mostly because many of my messages in retrospect were pretty uncreative and dry.

One day I was messing around looking through various profiles when I saw an extremely attractive girl and decided I had to message her. In my opinion, she was a perfect ten. Not just the fact that she was a gorgeous blonde, but we liked a lot of the same music and movies and well I could actually send her a decent e-mail because of all the things we had in common. I also need to reiterate that her pictures were smoking which most definitely clouded my judgement. I should also mention that I’m former military and an Afghan veteran, so nothing really scares me.

Almost immediately after pressing “send” she responded. We messaged each other through the OKCupid messenger service for about a week and I got to learn a lot about her. Her name was Aoife (pronounced EE-FAH) and she was from Belfast. She told me she had a daughter named Rosin (which didn’t really bother me) and had a very long complicated story about how she grew up a Catholic in Northern Ireland during the troubles and was orphaned at a young age. She seemed really driven and had such an amazing story. I had so many questions and in all reality a lot of respect for her, so it was really easy to keep talking to her.

Within about another week we started talking on the phone and then sometimes on Skype. She’d never do an actual videochat (which at the time I didn’t think was too weird) but she’d send me pictures of her and her daughter, friends, etc. For the most part this whole thing seemed legit. The stories she had were pretty detailed and she was talking about stuff that I really didn’t know a lot about and honestly couldn’t comprehend.

Then there were parts of the story that seemed to get kinda weird and didn’t add up. At first she told me she was a hair stylist at some swank place in Central London. I don’t really frequent Central a lot... so ok... no biggie. I’d just met her online... I wasn’t going to head into central to stalk her at work.

Then she said that she owned a bar in Camden called “The Lock Tavern” (which I looked up on the internet and is a real place) and managed it on weekends. She had detailed stories about the bouncers and regulars, etc. This didn’t seem to make a lot of sense but ok.. .I mean I guess you could do both jobs and be a full time mom? It seemed odd, but she seemed driven, and she also seemed really hot so who was I to judge? Again, I wasn’t going to be super creeper and pop down there... I just took her word for it. She also said she lived in a really nice penthouse near Covent Garden... which if anyone knows the London real estate market didn’t seem plausible on a hairdresser/barmaid's wages (She explained this by saying that she’d fallen into some money after the troubles. It seemed kinda far fetched, but again, without actually meeting her who am I to judge?) I started to notice some other weird things. She’d send me pictures and in some of them certain tattoos were present, in some they weren’t. I figured she was just sending old pictures but I remember that is what started to tip me off that things were fishy to say the least. But again, there’s really nothing wrong with sending old pictures and I had no real reason not to believe the photos were Aoife. They all seemed like the same girl and with the excpetion of the tattoos and some small changes in hair colour. Nothing really seemed out of the ordinary. She would also send me pictures of her daughter, Roisin (whom she claimed was 14).

Finally after talking to Aoife for a few weeks online I asked her out on a date. I figured it was time I finally meet her. We’re set to meet up on a Friday night and on that Friday she doesn’t respond to a single text or call. I had nowhere to meet her. By around 9pm she texts saying things got out of control at her pub, and she was really sorry but she had to cancel. I was upset and should have bailed there, but I forgave her and we agreed to set up another first meeting.

Things from here really started to get weird. As I said I was doing the online dating thing, and in this time I’d met a few other girls. Another girl named Jo had asked me out (who turned out to be a psychopath, but that’s just because she had an uncontrollable temper... and is nothing interesting enough to put on this subreddit). I went out with Jo one night in an area of London called Shoreditch (which isn’t too far from where Aoife’s pub was). While I was out Aoife called and texted me a few times. I basically just ignored the calls. When the date was over, I said “bye” to Jo and went home and called Aoife. She asked where I was, and basically... well I lied... I said I was out with a friend. Aoife didn’t say anything and we talked on the phone for a bit and then said goodnight.

This situation got strange a few nights later when Aoife caught me in my lie. She claimed knew that I was out with another girl. She knew which restaurant I was at and the night that I'd been there. She knew what Jo had looked like. Aoife claimed that one of the bouncers from her pub knew what I looked like because she had shown him photos and he recognised me when I came through the doors at the restaurant in Shoreditch. (This didn’t make a lot of sense because I didn’t see any bouncers at the restaurant we were at... but maybe he was bartending or something. I didn’t know. She had details and they were spot on.) This was odd to say the least.

I basically told Aoife that the date was set up before I’d even met her, and that we weren’t really dating, so she had no right to be upset. Plus she’d stood me up, if anyone should be mad, it’s me.
To be honest I forget what really happened in this part of the story. I think we fought for a little bit. Didn’t talk for a few weeks. Then one night she called me really late. It seemed off so I answered. She was panicking. From what I could tell she was suffering from sleep paralysis... which I know is scary so I stayed on the phone with her until she went back to sleep. This happened a few more times. I really had no intention to date or even see her. I went home to the US for about a month and while we did keep limited contact, there was nothing too serious and my expectations were pretty low.
After I had gotten back to London she invited me out. I don’t remember much of the details but, she ended up canceling on me again. I basically decided “fuck it.” I wasn’t even upset. We’d text a little bit, but the communications really started to die down. I really didn’t think much about it and went on with my life.

Then one night I entered the Twilight Zone

One day I was in the King's Cross/St. Pancras area with a friend of mine from the States. He had to make a meeting nearby so I was by myself in the area. That's when I got a text from Aoife. She asked if I wanted to meet up and I figured “hell might as well finally meet this girl.” I was in the same area of town (2 stops away) and I didn’t see any harm in it. She told me to meet her up in Camden and she’d be at the Wetherspoons’ Pub at noon. It wasn’t a date (at least in the romantic sense--which was good) and at this point I was really curious as to who she was. I’d literally spent hours talking and texting to this girl.

So I don’t know Camden that well and I’m getting texts from her on the way up there as I’m trying to find the Wetherspoons’ (It’s right by the Lock in Camden by the way). She’s telling me she’s at work and in the process of selling her share in the bar but she’s on her way. Another friend of her’s is at the bar, but “he’s a great guy, you’ll like him.” Again, I was already right there. Might as well meet her friend.

That’s when I met Reece.

Reece was a tall skinny Ginger kid. He was about 21 and had a thick Irish accent. I walked up to him shook his hand and we got drinks. He seemed nice enough and for as weird as the situation could potentially be it wasn’t all that uncomfortable. Another one of his friends was there as well. They seemed like two nerds in their early twenties. They talked about football and videogames and all the other stuff twenty-something kids talk about mixed in with a little bit of politics and a couple random questions about “how do you know Aoife?” etc. I’d been in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban a few years prior, this situation was’t anything to be concerned about.

Then I got a text from Aoife. Something along the lines of “Hey, getting tied up, be there in about an hour.” Reece seemed nice enough. So we hung out got a few beers, and moved on to the next pub. Still no Aoife.

Reece and his friend were nice. We did rounds, and fortunately I hold my beer pretty well. Another apologetic text from Aoife rolls in. “Fuck it...we’re drinking” I thought and we were having a good enough time. Reece would ask me random questions about Aoife, but I basically shrugged it off to it being one of the only few things we had in common. We bar hopped around Camden and went to the Hawley Arms (Redditors may know this bar because it’s one of Amy Winehouse’s old haunts). At one point I was in the cue to buy a round of drinks and felt like this guy was way too close to me. I turned around and saw an overweight old man with an ugly brown jacket and a pock-marked face. He had a crucifix tattooed on his neck. In all honesty; a typical barfly you’d see in any British pub. I said “excuse me” and walked past him. We continued to drink and bullshit the day away.

By this time it was like 2:30-3 and Aoife is nearing three hours late. I decide “Fuck it... lets go to the Lock Tavern (her bar).” Reece and his friend seemed cool with it. We get there and there’s two Irish tri-colours flying above the place. “Yeah... you can tell Aoife owns the place, huh?” Reece said. The part of the story kinda added up.

We went into her place and I text her to tell her we’re there. “Oh great, I’m almost done with this, I’ll be down in a minute.” She never comes down. But this is when the story gets really really weird.
This other dude named Pete shows up shakes Reece’s hand and Reece says “oh you’re here to meet Eva” (Keep in mind that Aoife and Eva are phonetically almost identical names). I look at Reece and he’s like “Ah this must seem weird...Eva is Aoife’s best friend." Now this seemed really weird but I needed to figure out what was going on. These two girls have almost exactly the same name and I had never heard Aoife mention Eva before.

I start talking to Pete and Reece starts asking similar questions to him about “Eva” that he was asking me about Aoife. But some of these questions were getting more serious. He was asking him things like “Do you love her?” Pete’s story then starts to sound eerily similar to mine: Pete meets Eva online, she’s from N. Ireland, has a daughter named Roisin (In his version she's 12). He’d tried to meet up with her a few times but it fell though. He was invited last minute to hang out today.
“Oh shit, this is weird.” Is all I could think. Something wasn’t right. At this point I knew that someone was getting played (probably me) and I was in some kind of game but I needed to figure out what exactly was going on. Pete and I started to figure out things right about the same time and right in front of Reece who stuck to his guns on the story remarkably well. “They both have similar names...they both have daughters that are around the same age with a really common Irish name.” I’m not buying it. Neither is Pete. I decide that the pub we were in might not be friendly territory and I don’t want to get Shanghaied in Camden, so I suggest we leave. “Aoife” sends me a text saying she’s almost on her way down. “Great, I said... meet us up the street at some other pub.” Pete and I start walking out. On the way out I asked the bartender “Hey is Aoife ********** working today? He responds “no mate, Aoife *********** hasn’t worked here in three years.” At this point I know something really really creepy is going on.

We head to the next pub. I’ve got a good buzz going on, but I know I need to sober the fuck up and fast. I think Pete might be a victim in this game too, but he might not be. He for sure can't be trusted. Reece and his buddy are suspect as well but I don't have any proof yet and my curiosity is keeping me there. We walk into another pub. Reece’s friend says something to Reece and I don’t hear it. Neither does Pete. Reece looses it. He yells at his friend and his friend basically says “fuck you, I’m out” and takes off. Pete and I are still trying to put things together. I find a table on an outdoor deck. It’s quiet. I can think, and I can piece this together. It's amazing how fast you can sober up when you think you're in trouble.

I ask Pete if he has any pictures of “Eva.” and Pete pulls out his phone. He shows me a picture that I’d seen before. “Wait, That’s Roisin (Aoife’s daughter).” “No mate, that’s Eva.” Pete replies. This is making no sense. I’d been sent the same picture of the same girl and been told it was Aoife’s 14-year-old daughter.

I showed Pete pictures that I had of Aoife. He claimed he’d never seen the girl in the photos before. Reece was sticking to the story that I had pictures of Aoife and Pete had pictures of Eva and that he wasn’t sure why I thought the pic was of Roisin. He also kept claiming that Aoife and Eva texted him and they were on their way.

That’s when it dawned on me. I simply looked at Pete and asked him “what number do you have in your phone for Eva?” Pete reads the number on his phone and it turns out being the EXACT same number I had for Aoife in my phone. If all the other clues hadn’t added up, this one sent it over the edge. It also sent Pete out of the bar as he literally jumped over a table and ran out of the door in a panic (It was actually quite the sight to see).

At this point it was just me and Reece. I don’t think that he had overheard that we both had the same number for someone that he was telling me were two separate girls. Reece said that Aoife and Eva had texted him and that they’re on their way. I don’t know who Aoife and Eva are at this point or if they even exist. I basically tell Reece that I think he’s playing some kind of fucked up game and that he’s “more than suspect” of wrongdoing. He took offense this and at physically threatened me. He wasn’t a big dude and knew that if he stepped to me it wasn’t going to end well. I basically walked right through him, knocking him into a doorframe and tore out of the bar.

I headed straight for the tube. I needed to jump on the Northern line and get home. I wasn’t waiting for anything. At this point I have no idea what the fuck is going on. At best I’d been in some sort of weird Manti Te’o type Catfish scam at worst I was almost a victim in a snuff movie.

I get on the tube and there’s a guy right behind me. I look at him. He’s overweight, pock-marked face, brown jacket. We make eye contact. I look at his neck and there’s the crucifix tattoo. It was the same guy from the Hawley Arms. I'm a bit worried, but I've been under worse pressure before in my life. I calmly sat down on the train. The train was being held in Camden for some reason and wasn't moving. That’s when who jumps on the same carriage as the two of us? Reece.

I could have sworn he made eye contact and gave a nod to the man in the brown jacket. At this point I played dumb that they were there. On the London Tube there’s a certain dinging noise that’s made right before the doors close. I waited to hear that noise and then bolted out of the door. I ran around and doubled back on the tube several times. When I finally got back near home I texted a friend in New Cross and told her I was scared I was being followed. She was having a party that night and invited me over. I really didn't want to head home alone.

At this point, I think I doubled back and switched lines enough that if Reece and the man in the brown coat were following me, I’d lost them. I made it to New Cross safe and sound.
I had a few calls from “Aoife” the next few days but I never wanted to answer them. She also sent a few texts saying we needed to talk. Eventually she stopped calling and texting altogether. I have a few theories on the whole issue. One of my friends thinks that Reece and Aoife are the same person. I wouldn't rule it out but the person I talked to on the phone definitely sounded like a woman.
Anyway, I thought I'd share. To those of you who are dating online and meeting sketchy people, be safe about it. Never let your curiosity get to you like it did me. If there's anyone out there who has any idea what was going on feel free to share or play your theories off me. I'm still baffled by the whole thing.

tl;dr Met a hot girl on the internet, tried to meet her, met a guy at a bar with the exact same story about a similar girl with a similar name, realised girl doesn't exist, followed onto tube by creepy people instead of meeting hot girl



Anonymous said...

Catfish was a really interesting movie. Worth a check out from your local library.

I wish the person who wrote this story would have been able to figure out exactly what was going on.

What do you think was going on?

Brittnee B said...

Well my guess is judging by the crucifix & them following you onto the train you were about to be kidnapped & brought to some Satanists cult for them to do what they wanted with you. You were probably targeted because they knew you weren't from there & didn't know many people there.