In the midst of cuffing season, October 2020, I convinced myself that I was in the right headspace to get some (COVID-safe) dick. I ‘needed to get it in’ before winter came to steal my joy. I must have been radiating this because, during this interlude, an old flame of sorts texted me a poignant, “Hey sexy.” I didn’t recognize the number. “It’s Kevin,” they said. “Oh, Kevin is Todd’s friend. Blegh,” I thought.
Todd was a dating app nightmare who I’d met in November of 2019. He was highly attractive and seemed to say all the right things as we switched quickly from messaging in the app to texting. We spoke for a few days about the date we’d go on; then, things got hot. Todd asked what I would wear on our first date, pushing for “Leggings… and a thong — lace.” I played along with our sexy banter; “Sure.”
I have an ‘I’ll show you mine if you show me yours’ approach to nudes — which Todd obliged.
When Todd asked for nudes, it didn’t really phase me. Nudes are the currency of desire in this day and age. This was my first experience with sexting, and I’d only been messaging Todd for a few days. We hadn’t met yet, which made me wary, but not enough to withhold sending a lingerie photo I’d already posted to my burlesque Instagram profile. I have an ‘I’ll show you mine if you show me yours’ approach to nudes — which Todd obliged.
After we exchanged a few saucy pics, Todd began getting really aggressive; calling me things like “little slut.” All without discussing if I even enjoy this term or type of play — I don’t. Todd also asked for very specific photos, “I wanna see your nipples. I hope they’re big.” I never obliged this request. “Send me a pic u took for someone else” and “Send me a pic of a guy’s dick you sucked” were his favorite lines. I shrugged it off and would only send implied nudes back (no nip or puss) without my full face.
One fantasy Todd adamantly wanted was an MMF (male-male-female) threesome. I’d been looking for partners to do this, so imagine my delight when I get a text from Todd about arranging a three-way with his “friend from high-school.” Mere days later I got a random text from an unknown number with a face pic. It was Todd’s projected threesome buddy. He introduced himself as Kevin. The conversation with Kevin died, as I wondered why Todd would give out my number without asking.
For two weeks Todd was never able to meet in-person but somehow took the time to sext endlessly. I couldn’t keep expelling sexual energy on someone I’d never met. That’s when I woke up to poetry from Todd: ”Hey, u little slut. You better have sucked dick this weekend.” Oh, fuck no.
I answered, “I’m tired of talking. Let’s meet” after which I was left on read. Todd solicited nude and sent videos of himself jerking off with a sense of urgency, but when the conversation turned to meeting IRL, he ignored me.
I told Todd not to bother.
“Ur a slut! Ur talking to like ten guys right now!”, Todd slurred. “Yeah, but I’ll never be your slut,” I shot back. I blocked him and tried to shake off my disgust at having given this unhinged creep a chance.
Fast-forward to October 2020, and the random text from Kevin. I figured Kevin might have a proclivity for trash since he was “friends” with a toxic slut-shamer. But I was bored and at pique quarantine horniness. I wanted a mindless fuck. What I got was mind-fucked.
The conversation with Kevin escalated to me asking for a dick pic. In a faceless photo, Kevin looked very promising downstairs. So I began to steer the conversation toward meeting up safely.
Nearly every message was punctuated with, “You have to send me another picture.”
The come-ons started sounding familiar: “Send me a freaky pic you took for a guy.” “I hope you have big nipples.” Wait a second…
I wasn’t going to exchange pics with a phantom, so Kevin and I set a date to meet that week. Kevin never showed.
I called him out, “I feel like you and Todd are reading from the same script… am I being catfished?”. Kevin denied it. I wasn’t going to exchange pics with a phantom, so Kevin and I set a date to meet that week. Kevin never showed.
After this episode, I had a long conversation with a girlfriend who insisted that we reverse Google-image search the face and dick pic — nothing. My rage was quelled. Maybe Kevin was simply a flake. But something just felt so… off.
Todd was posing as his own friend, ‘Kevin’, to coerce me into sending nudes and sexting — nearly one year after our original exchange.
After some research the next day, I found that Google has many adult content filters (why nothing showed up at first), so I sleuthed a site that bypassed them. Upon uploading the dick pic of Kevin’s, the exact image popped up on five porn sites!
I looked up the number ‘Kevin’ had texted from on WhitePages — it was a VolP (Virtual) phone number! Todd was posing as his own friend, ‘Kevin’, to coerce me into sending nudes and sexting — nearly one year after our original exchange.
There are two types of this predatory behavior; Catfishing with an ‘f’ is when people use an online persona to receive attention, gifts, relationships, or monetary gain. Catphishing with a ‘ph’ is when an online persona/fictional entity is used to gain access to sensitive information and/or data (like nude photos). I’d been Catfished AND Catphished.
My penchant for justice won’t let me shake off shitty behavior, so I sent ‘Kevin’/Todd a message with my findings and called him out as a Catfish and a predator. He immediately deactivated the ‘Kevin’ number and removed all photos and videos from Todd’s 2019 conversation thread — confirming my suspicions. Luckily, I’d saved Todd’s face pics.
To find out whether Todd was a real person or just some incel loser trolling women as a fictional “hot dude”, I paid a nominal fee to use his phone number for an online background check. I found a full name — Todd GXXXXX BXXXXX. I was able to correlate it to an inactive Instagram account whose photo confirmed that Todd was who he said — at first, but no less a loser and a creep for having been a “nice-looking” guy.
‘Kevin’ had completely duped me. I never thought he/Todd would have the nerve to circle back to me after I’d told him off. Was it revenge after my denying him? Maybe. But more likely, this triangulated scheme was something that Todd got away with regularly. I was right about that too.
The background check included Todd’s criminal history. He had a prior “Harassment by Phone” misdemeanor. “A person commits harassment by telephone when [they] use telephone communication for… making any comment, request, suggestion or proposal which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy or indecent with an intent to offend”, as the law states. Todd was a legitimate predator, and I was certainly not his first or last victim.
Yet, I, like many sex crime victims, feel conflicted about pursuing legal action.
I’ve thought about pursuing a misdemeanor filing myself, as my state law “mandates a minimum jail term for a second or subsequent violation of… harassment based communication offenses.” With this instance presumably being a second violation (at least) for Todd, it could be treated as a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.
Yet, I, like many sex crime victims, feel conflicted about pursuing legal action. Reason being that there is a lingering fear of retaliation from abusers, even after resolution. This would also mean deferring the general closure I so need and deserve.
The most lenient punishment for this misdemeanor crime is minimal jail time, paying a $2,500 fine, and doing some community service: none of which would deter my abuser from trolling altogether. While I don’t feel 100% confident that justice would be served at the expense of endangering or re-traumatizing myself, this option remains open and viable.
The highest authority I found for reputable Catfish/Catphish reporting is the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a tragically generic online form that I’m not sure will do much besides document the incident. In researching a possible restraining order, I discovered that without the presence of “physical harm or threat,” my case didn’t have much to stand on.
Finally, I reported Todd to Hinge, his hunting ground for baiting women, then switching to salacious texts. He was swiftly kicked off for violating their terms. Although Todd could very well be prowling other apps as any persona, my peace of mind remains in knowing that I did everything I could to prevent this from happening to anyone else.
Some might say that I ‘deserved it’ for engaging. Or that because I’ve shared nearly nude photos of myself on the internet before, that this is no different. The difference is this; context. When you share yourself in a sexual/sensual context on your own terms (on social platforms or with someone personally), there is a container of trust from each party to keep the content within that space. If I share a spicy photo on my socials, I agree with the context of it being shared by me for a certain audience. Not on Reddit. If someone sends you a private photo, that does not mean you can or should share it with anyone; that would violate the context in which they agreed to share.
You can ‘watermark’ your nudes by saving your spicy photos in an Instagram story, (without posting them) with a custom text overlay like, “For (potential lover’s name) only”. This keeps things coy while setting a precedent of mutual privacy respect. And in the event that they leak, you’ll know the source. You can send expiring nudes on apps like KIK, Snapchat, or Feeld, but technology doesn’t keep folks from taking screenshots or screen-recording (yes, even the ‘screenshot/recording’ alert on Snapchat can be outsmarted). Essentially, sending nudes is a trust exercise.
I thought I’d met my sexual match when really I was getting hustled by an internet low-life.
But what about sexting? With cybersex and sexting being SEX, my sexting one supposed person under the guise of a fictional character is an egregious violation of trust. It’s also perverted as fuck.
Against my better judgment, I ignored the warning signs: quick changes in tone, incessant and odd pleas for ‘pics,’ unsolicited disclosure of fantasies, and textbook dirty-talk. I thought I’d met my sexual match when really I was getting hustled by an internet low-life.
This is not so much a cautionary tale as it is an offering — one final bloodletting of a terrifying experience that I wouldn’t wish on my worst high-school mean girl. People like Todd, predators, and manipulators, are certainly out there lurking — waiting for unsuspecting folks to succumb to their persistent advances. But no amount of vigilance prevents a predator from preying.
I could say, “Don’t be like me. Keep your guard up and never sext anyone again”, but that’s bullshit. Seek and find connections how you please; just make your boundaries clear. And no, I am not ‘desperate’, ‘dumb’, or ‘weak’ for succumbing to internet entrapment. Predators have a long game. I was simply caught in the crosshairs.
The fact is that I am like most people — searching for an authentic connection in a world that seems to offer little. Months of intimacy fatigue created a blindspot that anyone with a good conscience could have overlooked.
Since intimacy is sparse in a post-COVID world, predatory interactions like this are bound to happen more. I mean, practically everyone’s meeting online, right? As people test the waters of unknown intimate spaces, we should acknowledge where our and others’ sexual boundaries lie and make those lines clear. Without the third dimension to inform our perspective, we as a world have to develop a more keen sense for asking and receiving the intimacy we desire — online and off.
With that in mind, I’ve got to give myself grace for not resisting a good old throbbing dick pic — even if it looked pretty porn-y upon second glance. My new rules: reverse image search any pic I receive, ask for real-time photos (with specifics- like “hold up the number ‘3’ “, and watermark my nudes.