SWNS – PA
Mum Anna Rowe believed she was in a loving and committed relationship
Catfishing, as it is known, is where a man or woman makes up a fake online persona to start a relationship with an unsuspecting victim.
For more than a year, Anna Rowe believed she was in a loving and normal relationship with a man she planned to marry.
The pair enjoyed snuggling up on the sofa together before bed, he talked about making changes to the home they shared and he even referred to her as his wife.
But when he began cancelling dates and reactivated his Tinder profile, she discovered her handsome lover was a fake – and she didn’t even know his real name.
Even the photo her boyfriend used on Tinder was a lie to avoid detection
Ms Rowe first started using Tinder in 2015
Even the photo he used on the dating app was a lie – as he had actually used an image of Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan .
Ms Rowe, a teaching assistant, signed up to online dating app Tinder in the summer of 2015, and connected with a man called Antony Ray a few days later.
She said: “He claimed to be a divorced father of three young boys who worked in aviation in London.
“He had a beautiful voice and swept me off my feet.
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Anna had even invited her new man to meet her children
“He’d ask things like, ‘Would you be embarrassed if I kissed you passionately in public?’ and when he declared that he hated mind games, I thought, ‘This man’s not going to hurt me, as he’s clearly been hurt before too’.
“We spent hours texting and calling but even though I was falling for him, for the sake of my boys I held off inviting him over for three and a half months.
“I was full of butterflies but when he walked into my home, put his keys on the table and kissed me, it was with such ease it was like he’d done it a million times before.
“I thought it was a sign of how easy we felt around each other, but it turns out he was just really well practised.”
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We spent hours texting and calling but even though I was falling for him, for the sake of my boys I held off inviting him over for three and a half months
Catfish victim Anna Rowe
He claimed his job took him abroad mid-week, and said he had to look after his children from a previous marriage at weekends.
But the pair soon settled into a routine, with Ms Rowe cooking him his favourite dinners and packing him lunches for work.
His dressing gown hung on the back of the door, and the cupboards were full of his favourite foods.
Initially he bombarded her with texts, calling her his wife and insisting he couldn’t wait for her to be the next “Mrs Ray”.
Her handsome man even referred to her as his wife
But when he began to repeatedly cancel arrangements, she checked Tinder again – only to find he had reactivated his account.
After setting up her own fake profile, she reached out to Mr Ray – who quickly took the bait.
She said: “He used all the same lines to woo me again. I realised how little I actually knew about this ‘Antony Ray’.
“I googled him but nothing came up, so I hired a private detective for £400.
The scammer later reactivated his Tinder account
The faker had actually used an image of Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan
“When the detective called and said, ‘Antony Ray doesn’t exist’, I felt a chill run down my spine. Who was this man who shared my bed and had met my children?
“I suddenly felt very, very scared.”
She eventually found out where the faker worked and tracked down his real name – which she cannot make public as he denies the affair.
And she even tracked down six other victims – and has since set up a petition urging the Prime Minister to make catfishing a crime.
She said: “I’m a measured and responsible 44-year-old woman. If it happened to me, then it could happen to anyone.”