Football player conned by online personality: How common is it? - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Football player conned by online personality: How common is it?

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TEMPE, Ariz. -

People meet online every day -- some even fall in love. But do you really know who you are talking to on the internet? Is the person in that charming Facebook or Twitter profile real?

Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o thought he was in love with this woman.

"To sleep on the phone with her every night and to hear her say, before through all the pain of chemo, just babe - can we say our prayer - wake up babe, can we say a morning prayer," Te'o said.

He even grieved her supposed death from cancer, and dedicated his season in her memory. But turns out, "this was a very elaborate, very sophisticated hoax," says Jack Swarbrick.

All of it made up.

"Manti is the victim of that hoax and he will carry that with him for a while."

And he's not alone. It happens all the time. But that doesn't make this story any less hard to believe.

First it was a documentary and now a reality show on MTV. "Catfish," the term for a phony online personality, has made a lot of people across the country question whether or not the person they're been talking to and even sometimes falling in love with is real.

So how common is the intimate online relationship that never quite materializes into a face-to-face meeting?

A lot more than you would think, if 5 minutes on Mill Avenue is any indication.

"He sent a picture of everywhere, like wherever he went, he'd send me a picture of like, oh I'm here at the park with him in the picture," says Impress Williams.

And you trust he was a real guy? "Yeah," she answered.

"We've been talking for 2 years actually, and we met for the first time this December… I was scared because he's like you want to turn on your camera? I'm like no but you can turn on yours, that's how we started talking," says Michelle Santiago.

Christina Bell met a man online and she doesn't doubt that he's real.

"He's a real person yeah, cause I talk to him on the phone and everything too, but I plan to meet him though when I go back out there to New York," says Christina Bell.

Related story: Story of Te'o girlfriend death apparently a hoax

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