Return to Transcripts main page
Manti Te'o Victim of Catfishing; Tom Harkin Announces He Will Not Run for Reelection; Rioting in Egypt Over Court Decision
Aired January 26, 2013 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Don Lemon here.
We've got a very special hour ahead. But first we want to get you quickly up to speed on the day's headlines.
First, to Egypt where rioting has erupted over a court decision sentencing 21 people to death. These 20 people were killed in clashes with security forces today. This all happened after the court sentenced the 21 for their role in a post-game soccer riot last year. More than 70 people were killed in that riot.
Thousands of people marched in Washington today demanding tough new gun control laws. It is the first major anti-gun demonstration since the Newton, Connecticut shooting and it comes just days after a bill was introduced in Congress that would ban assault rifles, semiautomatic weapons, and high-capacity magazines.
Long-time Iowa Democratic senator Tom Harkin says he will not run for re-election in 2014. Harkin served ten years in the house before his election to the Senate in 1984. He is 73 years old.
President Obama released a statement praising Harkin's work on health care and his efforts to help Americans with disabilities.
Tonight, for the entire hour, we're tackling the story everyone is talking about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: You've ahead the name.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Manti Te'o, the Notre Dame star --
KATE BOLDUAN, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Manti Te'o is trying to explain --
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, AC360: The Manti Te'o fake girlfriend hoax.
A.J. HAMMER, HLN HOST, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: Biggest Manti mysteries.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the already strange Manti Te'o story.
LEMON: And if you've heard the story you're probably a bit confused. We're going to run it all down and get some insight from those who know. The experts on this type of con. The producer of the TV show "Catfish," another victim who says what happened to Manti Te'o happened to him. And the pretty face at the center of the controversy. Her images stolen right off the internet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really difficult to wrap my head around this. My true identity is going to be hard to take back.
LEMON: She's here live with our tech pro to arm you with the tools to help prevent anything like this from ever happening to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: All right. It's a story full of unusual names, a story of a football star and the girlfriend who never existed. But it's about so much more than that, and it captures so much about the way we live our lives today.
Until recently, and unless you follow football, you would not have heard of Manti Te'o. A star player at Notre Dame, a university that symbolizes tradition and old-school values, caught up in the most modern online schemes known as catfishing. The stories about his girlfriend, his online girlfriend portrayed in this photo, who supposedly died but turned out never to have lived.
It has shined the light on all of us, putting on display both the very new and the very old story. The new is the way we all depend on technology and the internet and the relationships both personal and professional that we try to build and maintain on and offline.
The old, one of the most terrifying of all. The human conditions. I'm talking about loneliness. Catfishing can happen, and it has happened to lots of people.
Here now, this case, how it played out.
COOPER (voice-over): According to Manti Te'o, he first met the person he thought was Lennay Kekua over facebook when he was a freshman in college. This is what he told Katie Couric.
MANTI TE'O, NOTRE DAME LINEBACKER: I knew of her. We'd speak as friends, ever since my freshman year. But it didn't start to pick up until my junior year. And it was just since I didn't meet her and I didn't see her in person and she just seemed nice and from the pictures she seemed, you know, very beautiful.
COOPER: A week ago Te'o told the ESPN their casual friendship over facebook escalated after the fictional Kekua told him her father died. They grew closer and would talk on the phone for hours, according to Te'o, who provided Katie Couric with a voicemail from the girl he thought was Lennay Kekua.
LENNAY KEKUA, MANTI TE'O'S NON-EXISTED GIRLFRIEND: Hey, babe, I'm just calling to say good night, I love you. COOPER: Te'o says they tried multiple times to meet in person but something always stopped them. But still, he says, he never suspected anything was wrong.
TE'O: This Lennay person, there are so many similarities. She was Polynesian supposedly. She's Samoan. I'm Samoan. She loved her faith.
COOPER: In April of 2012 ,Te'o says he received a call, supposedly, from Kekua's brother telling him she was in a coma after a bad car accident. But still, he didn't visit her. They had supposedly been in a serious relationship now for about a year.
KATIE COURIC, ABC NEWS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Why in the world wouldn't you go visit this girl in the hospital?
TE'O: I end up in San Diego, which was too far for me to go to the hospital. Then I fly to L.A., and the layover time was too short.
COOPER: The fictional Kekua said she recovered, and Te'o says he jumped for joy when he heard the news. But in June, according to ESPN, Lennay Kekua told him she had leukemia.
COURIC: Either you're the most naive person on the planet or this is the saddest story I think ever written. I mean, at this point did you think to yourself, Manti, what? Are you kidding? Now she has leukemia? I mean, it goes on and on and on.
TE'O: Yes. And I thought this is -- how could all this happen to one person?
COOPER: Three months later, on September 12th, Te'o was told his grandmother had died, and a few hours later he got a phone call from someone who says he's Lennay Kekua's brother.
TE'O: He was crying and kept screaming and he just said, "she's gone."
COOPER: Te'o then dedicated the rest of his football season to his grandmother and to Lennay Kekua. His coaches shared his story with the media, which along with his stellar performance on the field made him a star.
But then on December 6 Te'o received a phone call. The voice on the other end of the phone said "it's Lennay Kekua."
TE'O: There was a long silent pause. And -- yes. I was angered, to say the least.
COURIC: But you knew something was up at that point.
COURIC: Finally. You knew something was up.
TE'O: Yes. COOPER: And then, even though the person he thought was Lennay Kekua was alive, he still spoke publicly about her death two days later.
TE'O: I lost both my grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer.
COOPER: Those comments led many to believe Te'o was in on the hoax. If he knew the person he thought was Kekua was alive, why did he say publicly she had died?
Today, Te'o told Couric he was simply overwhelmed.
TE'O: This girl who I committed myself to died on September 12th. Now I get a phone call on December 6th saying that she's alive, and then I'm going to be put on national TV two days later and to ask me the same question. You know, what would you do?
COOPER: Anderson cooper, CNN, New York.
LEMON: I want to introduce you now to Diane O'Meara. She's the woman, the real woman whose photos were used without her knowledge to portray the phony online identity of Lennay Kekua. She's going to join me live after the break to share her side of the story. And throughout the hour we're going to take beyond the Manti Te'o case to get a broader view of the pitfalls of our digital world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEKUA: I just wanted to say I love and you good night and I'll be OK tonight. I'll do my best. Yes. So get your rest, and I will talk to you tomorrow. I love you so much, hon. Sweet dreams.
COURIC: You have no idea who the voice on the other end of the phone was for all those months?
Do you think Ronaiah (ph) could have been playing the role of Lennay? Do you think that might have been a man on the other end of the phone?
TE'O: Well, it didn't sound like a man. It sounded -- it sounded like a woman. And but if -- if he somehow made that voice, that's incredible. That's an incredible talent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Such a bizarre story.
OK. So look at this photograph. This is Diane O'Meara's photo. Her photos have brought her publicity she never expected and never asked for. That's because images like this one from her facebook page were used without her permission to portray the fictional girlfriend of Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o. And when this surprising story became national headlines everyone wanted to hear from the woman who wasn't Lennay Kekua.
Diane O'Meara joins me now from Los Angeles.
Good to see you. How are you doing in the last couple of days?
DIANE O'MEARA, PHOTOS USED TO PORTRAY LENNAY KEKUA: Hi. Good. Thank you. It's been hard. It's been a whirlwind of emotions, a whirlwind of just trying to keep as much normalcy to my life as possible.
LEMON: When did you suspect something was going on?
O'MEARA: Well, I was first contacted by the Deadspin reporter who first published the original story. I was contacted by him two days before the story broke, on that Monday. And that's when I first heard about even Manti Te'o. I had no idea who he was even. This is when I first realized that my identity had been stolen in this completely vulnerable way.
LEMON: But didn't they ask you earlier? Didn't someone contact you and ask you to take a picture with letters? You didn't suspect something then?
O'MEARA: I was contacted by Ronaiah early December of 2012 --
LEMON: Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who is a high school classmate of yours, right?
LEMON: OK. It was -- also friends, excuse me. Also friends with Manti Te'o. Go on.
O'MEARA: I was contacted by Ronaiah early December. And since high school and even high school I never really talked with him. I never heard from him, seen him, or spent time with Ronaiah outside of the surface conversations in high school that we had.
He contacted me and repeatedly messaged me on facebook saying that he urgently needs my help. There's something that he needs my help with, that it's an emergency and if I could contact him as soon as I can. You know, and I ignored it for a while. And I just finally simply messaged back asking if everything was OK. In my head I'm imagining since we're from the same home town I'm imagining something terrible has happened to someone that I know, something that's happened in my home town --
LEMON: What did he want from you?
O'MEARA: He then finally contacted me on the phone and related this story, that him and his cousin had been in a tragic car accident, and asked if I could send a photo of myself to support him and kind of comfort his cousin through this photo slide show that he was creating for his cousin's birthday. LEMON: But as it turns out, it was this fake -- he was giving the photos to Manti Te'o and pretending to be the woman Lennay Kekua and it wasn't what he was saying that it was, correct?
O'MEARA: As I find out, last Monday, that this was all part of this big scheme.
LEMON: OK. Let me ask you this. What did he say to you when he admitted the hoax?
O'MEARA: Ronaiah called me that Monday night when this was all coming to the surface for me. He admitted that he was stealing my photos for the past five years and that he created this alternate identity of Lennay Kekua simply because he was unsatisfied with his life and he wanted to create a life separate through my images and through my face.
LEMON: So he was friends with Manti Te'o. He was friends with you. Why would he do this to a friend? Was there some sort of a -- what kind of relationship did he have with Manti Te'o that would make him do this sort of hoax or this sort of trick, play this sort of trick on him?
O'MEARA: I'm not clear on Manti Te'o and Ronaiah's relationship. So I can't really speak on that. As to why my face was involved in this, I have no idea. It's clear obviously that shortly after Ronaiah learned about who I was in high school he began to obsess and stalk my photos clearly.
LEMON: What do you mean obsess and stalk your photos?
O'MEARA: Well, there's definitely an imbalance for somebody to prey on somebody's facebook profiles, and he was stealing them as quickly as I was posting them to my facebook profile, mutual friends that also were from my same high school were posting photos with me. Just as quickly as they were up, he was stealing them.
LEMON: And no one ever said to you, hey, there's someone else online who, you know, has your pictures? No one ever sent you photographs of this other account?
O'MEARA: No. And that's the thing, is I don't follow college football and I don't follow girlfriends of college football players. But even when this story came to surface, even some of my closest friends were contacting me saying, you know, check out this story. This looks like you. They couldn't even fathom that it in fact was my photos, it in fact was my face.
LEMON: Yes. We're going to have you back a little bit later on. But I have to ask you this one question.
So, you said you weren't sure about the relationship between Manti Te'o and Tuiasosopo, right? So you don't know what kind of friends they were. And the reason I'm asking you that is because do you think that Manti Te'o was in on this in some kind of way, that he knew about this hoax?
O'MEARA: You know, I can't speak about their relationship together and I can't speak on whether or not Manti Te'o is lying. But you know, it just makes me think of what kind of state of mind that this was in and why he wouldn't want stronger closure when he did find out that all this came to surface.
LEMON: OK. Thank you. You're a very brave woman to come on and talk about this and tell the story. It's been I'm sure a very trying time for you.
Again, she's going to be back a little bit more and talk to you about this coming up.
So, I mean, who would fall for this sort of thing? Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doctors, lawyers, law enforcement. I mean, people who are really smart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: CNN talks with a private investigator about cases just like this. And you'll want to hear this. Joining me live, a man who was a victim of this too.
LEMON: Not all victims of catfishing are young or lonely or vulnerable. A lot of people who get caught up in these hoaxes are smart, savvy professionals.
CNN's Deborah Feyerick says they come from all walks of life, but virtually every relationship ends the same way.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As crazy as it sounds, what apparently happened to Notre Dame football player Manti Te'o happened every day.
DAWN RICCI, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Doctors, lawyers, law enforcement. I mean, people who are really smart.
FEYERICK: Private investigator Dawn Ricci says she's spoken to hundreds of men and women who get conned after falling deeply in love online.
What is it they're hoping for?
RICCI: Everybody just wants to feel needed and loved and find that romance, the wonder, the excitement of it all. The scammer just knows how to pull them into it.
FEYERICK: It's called catfishing, a term popularized by the 2010 film "catfish," about a man who has an online love affair with the ideal woman, who turns out not to exist. It's a scam built on trust, one e-mail, one text, one phone call at a time over months. Or in Manti Te'o's case, perhaps years.
RICCI: He fell in love with a fictional character. I mean, just a thought and a fantasy in his head.
FEYERICK: Ricci believes Te'o is like many of her clients, the target of a cruel hoax.
RICCI: The bottom line is that there's money. They'll always ask for money.
FEYERICK: Ricci says she's had clients and tens of thousands of dollars to pay outstanding bills or buy expensive gifts like airline tickets, jewelry, in one case a new BMW.
Te'o told ESPN he never gave money to his so-called girlfriend, though admits she wanted to send him money and asked for his checking account number. He says he refused to give it.
RICCI: It's very hard for people to accept the fact that this person doesn't exist. Nothing's going to match up. Phone numbers aren't going to match up. Addresses aren't going to match up. I mean, you can send me to an address, and it's not going to be the person.
FEYERICK: In most cases once the money dries up the scammer disappears. In Manti Te'o's case, his girlfriend fakes her death.
RICCI: My clients are truly embarrassed of what has happened to them in their life. They don't want to talk to their friends, their family. They've depleted their bank account. They feel completely humiliated.
FEYERICK: Humiliated and left asking questions. How could it happen in the first place?
Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.
LEMON: So how could it happen in the first place you? You don't have to be young or naive or gullible or a love struck jock to get duped by one of these online scammers.
This guy has a story to tell, and he kept it to himself until he heard about Manti Te'o. Really? Gregory Crosby, a writer and a poet, a successful one.
Gregory, you got catfished. I read your article. I know exactly how you feel. He said, "Manti Te'o, I know exactly how you feel." That was the time of your article. Are you kind of embarrassed? GREGORY CROSBY, WRITER, PACIFIC STANDARD MAGAZINE: No, I'm not embarrassed because it's something that happened five years ago. In fact, before facebook became ubiquitous. So, I mean, I was embarrassed at the time and, you know, kind of messed up by it. But now I'm not embarrassed by it at all.
LEMON: So how can someone like you who's successful, who's a smart guy, be duped? And you're not alone. Many more have been duped as well. We're going to talk about that after the break. Don't go anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TE'O: My story was I felt was a guy who in times of hardship and in times of trial really, you know, held strong to his faith. Held strong to his family. And I felt that that was my story.
COURIC: Even if that hardship was perhaps exaggerated?
TE'O: No, it was -- what I went through was real. You know, the feelings, the pain, the sorrow. That was all real.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Welcome back, everyone. We are back now with Gregory Crosby. He is proof that all catfish victims are not all starry-eyed schoolboys. He's a professor at the city university of New York and writes for "Pacific Standard" magazine.
Gregory, you were in an exclusive online relationship with someone who was faking it. You said you were in love. How did you --
LEMON: -- let that happen to you? Were you lonely in were you rebounding? What was going on?
CROSBY: Well, I'd gone through a divorce. I'd had an even worse rebound from the divorce. And then I moved to New York city, which as many people know is sort of a perfect cauldron of loneliness, as I put it in the essay.
The person who created Maella, which was the name of the woman that I fell in love with, was kind of like the Meryl Streep of pathological liars. She went to great lengths to incarnate, to truly create my dream girl. And when your dream girl comes knocking, even though it doesn't seem that there's something fishy about it, doesn't seem like it's quite right, it's very hard to let that go.
LEMON: How did she -- how was she the Meryl Streep of doing that?
CROSBY: She created not just an online persona. She -- and she did this by stealing about 2,000 photos from a young woman's flickr account that she repurposed as Maella, but she -- we talked on the phone all the time. It was really love at first voice when we talked on the phone the first time. And she had an ability to create a character, to live that character, that was utterly convincing, even though part of the reason we kept not meeting was because of all of these traumas, all of these horrible things that had happened to her in the past.
LEMON: She was an actor.
CROSBY: She was very much an actor.
LEMON: She would pick up on what you would talk about and what you would want and then she would add to that.
CROSBY: You know, what if she'd just used her powers for good instead of evil, she could have been a novelist. Because what she did was -- her life sounded like a soap opera. And if you looked at it, you know, objectively, you'd think this is a soap opera character. But she had this genius for picking out just the right details to make it seem convincing to me.
LEMON: People who are scammers don't do that. People who are in love with the idea of being in love or want to just be in relationships do that as well.
LEMON: They pick up on what the other person wants and oh, I want to be with you so much, I want, this I want this, but they just want to be in love. So how did you finally find out that you were being scammed?
CROSBY: Oh. Well -- well, I want to make the point that I wasn't really being scammed. Maella, the woman who created Maella and impersonated her, really just thought that the only way she could be loved was by becoming a completely different person.
LEMON: Wait. So, don't think you were being scammed? You just thought this person was just a perpetual liar or what?
CROSBY: Well, not scammed in the sense of she was trying to get money out of me. I'm a poet. I don't have any money. She wasn't a con artist in that sense that she was trying to clean me out in terms of my money. But what she wanted was to be loved. And she wanted to be this beautiful, tragic character that she'd created. And I was complicit in that because I wanted it to be true.
LEMON: It was what I said before. She just -- yes. OK. Go ahead.
CROSBY: Yes. She did it all for love which of course doesn't make it, you know, right by any means. And I found out because she got arrested for unpaid traffic tickets and I couldn't reach her on the phone. We talked several times a day every day. We went to sleep tonight -- at night with the phones at each other's ears. She got arrested. I couldn't raise her for two or three days. By this point I have been suspicious. I knew something had been wrong for a very long time but couldn't let it go. I finally had the strength to call a third party. And after questioning that third party suddenly everything was revealed, that this person had actually created Maella and that Maella didn't exist.
LEMON: Well, Gregory, I'm happy to say you're in a real relationship and we're told by the people at CNN that your actual girlfriend is in the green room and it's a real person.
CROSBY: Yes indeed.
LEMON: What's her name?
CROSBY: Her name is Abigail.
LEMON: Good. Thank you. Keep it real.
CROSBY: Thank you. You too, Don.
LEMON: This apparently happens so much there is now a television show about this very problem. If there ever was an expert on catfishing, it is the executive producer of, of course, "catfish." He's up next.
LEMON: You don't need me to tell you this. Relationships are hard. Fake relationships may be even harder. The whole catfish phenomenon got its name from a 2010 film which is now being repurposed as an MTV show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey. Megan?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your voice is not at all what I expected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, she must be pretty awesome. At least from facebook.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long have you been calling each other babe?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two weeks maybe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm good. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last night we had a great talk. She told me about how a chicken makes an egg every day. Did you know that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Megan. I'd take you to my room and dry you off, touching every inch of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: All right. So the executive producer of MTV's "catfish," Rel Schulman, joins us live from Los Angeles.
The original film followed your brother -- your brother is Nev, right? Before he began --
REL SCHULMAN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, MTV'S CATFISH: That's right.
LEMON: -- his relationship with this online girlfriend. Suspicions grew as you guys filmed. And discovering that she wasn't who she claimed she would be. My question, though, is you guys must have known she was lying. Otherwise, why would you have begun filming in the first place? How much did you really know?
I had no idea that the lie was this big. Were we suspicious? Sometimes. But --
LEMON: Were you suspicious in the beginning? Why would you even film -- why were you filming this to start with?
SCHULMAN: Well, you have to understand, we film everything. I shared an office with my brother. And the guy's a great storyteller. He's in love online, and she's got a big family, and they're sending paintings and the stories are amazing. Turn on your little camera. It's this big and it's sitting on my desk. You know, we're filmmakers. That's what we do.
TE'O: OK. So I'm looking at this clip. Nev, you, both good- looking guys. Why do you need to fall in love with a woman online? I mean, you know, you don't need that. I mean, look at your brother. I mean, come on.
SCHULMAN: He is a good-looking guy. The better-looking in the family. Why her? Why not a girl in real life?
SCHULMAN: I think that kind of goes for all the catfishes, and there's a lot of these people out there. There's something about a platonic relationship you that just can't compare to a physical relationship, and maybe there's a sort of relief in just talking. You know, all that sexuality is sort of forgotten, and you can -- maybe you can just be yourself.
LEMON: OK. I don't know. I guess I'm just an old head and I come from a different time. I don't get it. But the show "catfish" on MTV, the format is people reaching out to you to help them unveil the truth about the people they're in an online relationship with. My skepticism is if they have been lying so long why would they choose to come clean to you guys with the eyes of the world on them?
SCHULMAN: Well, I think they're coming clean to the person they've been lying to more than anyone. And usually, they reach out -- well, they're not reaching out. But I think it becomes too much of a burden. And a lot of these start out as small white lies that just sort of snowball into something huge. And like in Manti's situation the only way to stop it is to kind of commit like facebook suicide, you know, and kill your character.
And before you get to that point, I mean, you're living with a lie. In my brother's case the woman who was doing this to him was spending the majority of her day, hours and hours and hours, for months living a lie. You know, and building the characters and talking on the phone and creating profiles and stealing pictures. It's exhausting.
LEMON: Yes, it is. I mean, anyway, as I said, I don't get it. So you guys are investigating Manti Te'o. What are you learning? I mean, do you believe his story, that he really didn't know?
SCHULMAN: Yes. I do believe him wholeheartedly. His case, situation reminds me a lot avenue what my brother went through. Just sort of like a wholesale dupe. He wanted to believe it. My brother wanted to believe it. You ignore the red flags and, you know, the human mind has a tremendous capacity for believing what it wants to believe and ignoring everything else.
LEMON: All right. This is fascinating.
Rel, hold on. I want you to stay right there because we're going to be talking about motivations next. Why would people do this? How could Manti Te'o fall for this? And Rel's brother as well. Coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COURIC: One of the theories, many theories, Manti, making the rounds is somehow you created this whole scenario to cover up your sexual orientation. Are you gay?
TE'O: No. Far from it. Far from that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: This story of course is where the question of motivation comes. What's the motivation sneer there's been a lot of speculation, like we just heard from Katie Couric. When people heard that we were doing this special, I had people come up to me, asking me, do you think this guy is gay. He says no. So that's what we go with.
However, he's not the only one in this story. Wendy Walsh is a human behavior expert. And you can preorder her book. It's on Amazon. It comes out very soon, "the 30-day love detox." she joins me from Los Angeles. And Rel is with us again here. He's the producer of "catfish," a show about scams like this one.
OK, Wendy. I was out last night talking about this. We're watching some -- Friday night, watching some basketball on television. I said what do you think of the Manti Te'o story? Every single person I talked to said I think he's gay and he's covering it up. What do you think?
WENDY WALSH, HUMAN BEHAVIOR SPECIALIST: Well, in our culture I think we have a really hard time understanding how a heterosexual male can have a sexless relationship. But I think Rel was right. This is about love. This is about the biggest delusion. It's I swear a bigger drug than heroin, love. And we want to feel connected to somebody. And that's how you slowly fall into it. You're actually in love, though, with your own projections, Don.
LEMON: So, it wasn't about money or anything like that? You said it's just -- you're in love with your own projections. Talk -- that's very interesting. Talk about that a bit more.
WALSH: OK. Here's a great example that will help you. You know, my apologies to those who believe deeply in astrology. I don't. But if you shuffled the deck and handed out people a bunch of astrological forecasts and says, well, here, you're the Taurus, you're the Gemini, read into it. People would always see themselves in it and always think that it's right. There have been studies on this.
So, in the same way the keyboard becomes that way. Whatever you want to see about yourself and that fictitious person comes. And they tease you with just enough feedback for it to play out in your fantasy mind.
Now, keep in mind, a digital relationship is like listening to your favorite band without the lead singer or the drummer. So you're missing pheromones, you're missing vocal tone, you're missing body language, you're missing any kind of thing, the ways that human beings take in information. And it's almost like you're just reading mores code. So you're imagining what it is.
LEMON: Right. And it doesn't have to be a fictitious person. You can project onto someone a real person as to what you want as well.
Rel, while you're doing the show "catfish," what commonalities did you see between the perpetrators?
SCHULMAN: I think we usually find that there's a deep insecurity, that they're projecting someone that they'd like to be.
LEMON: And that's the commonality that you saw? The only one?
SCHULMAN: LEMON: Yes. There's an element of loneliness. There's an element of fantasy on their end. They're insecure with who they are. And without, like you said, without the drummer and the lead singer you can be -- you can start a whole new band. Here's the thing that many people don't understand, Wendy and Rel. Rel, when we were talking about your brother, he's a good- looking guy. You saw from the video.
When you're talking about a big-time college football player, who can walk across campus and I'm sure the ladies are, you know, he's throwing women off of him many days. Why would this person be lonely? Why would this person have a relationship with a computer? Most people don't understand -- and I'm trying to put myself in his shoes.
And listen, everybody has been lonely before. Don't get me wrong. I've been lonely before. But to have a relationship with a computer or somebody you haven't met for years is a bit odd to anyone, Dr. Wendy. Especially when you're a big-time college football player.
WALSH: Well, I'll tell you how he can do it, Don. In fact, he probably preferred this kind of relationship because remember, this was a faith-based young man who did not believe in sexual activity before marriage. He was probably assault by the aggressive females on college campuses these days. So this was a way to create a big sexual boundary for him. He could have this emotional relationship without having to consummate it so that he could stay true to his faith, he could focus on --
LEMON: What about holding hands? What about going to dinner? What about watching movies together? What about whispering sweet nothings in your ear? What about blowing, you know, flowers out of -- dandelions? What about all those things, those human reactions that people are supposed to have? You don't have to have sex to do that.
WALSH: No, I agree with you, Don. But we're actually living, you know, because you've read pieces much my book, we're living in a high supply sexual economy. And plenty of people don't know how to say no to sex because there's so much pressure to have sex, any sex at any cost.
And one study out of Australia recently showed men aged 18 to 23, when you'd think like serious horny devils, actually wish they could have less sex. They're feeling too much pressure right now. Just saying.
WALSH: I know it's hard for you to believe.
TE'O: OK. Rel? Go ahead.
SCHULMAN: I dig that. I think Wendy's on to something. I think my brother had something similar, which was you can -- he just wanted to talk. I mean, it sounds crazy. But maybe the guy was spending his whole libidinal energy on the football field and what's he got left at the end of the night? He'd rather just lay in bed icing his knees and talk on the phone.
LEMON: Hey, Rel, when can we see "catfish"?
SCHULMAN: Monday night. Every Monday night on MTV. Next episode's going to be wild.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, Rel. Thank you, Wendy, as always.
WALSH: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: You know, this sounds difficult for so many people who got caught up in this. But there are things that you can do to protect yourself. And people you care about. Diana -- Diane O'Meara joins me again to talk about -- with our tech expert as well. And they talk about the moves that you can make right now to avoid becoming the next victim of catfishing.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILL LARSY, 9-YEARS-OLD: One day when he drove home from a little league game, I saw a homeless man with a cardboard sign that said "need a meal." So, I told my mom I wanted to do something.
BO SODERBERGH, BANK DIRECTOR: Will Larsy is a 9-year-old child. I hesitate to call him child. I think he's in a category of his own. As a 7-year-old, he decided he was going to take on this issue of hunger.
LARSY: Welcome to frogs.
My group is called frogs and it means friends reaching our goals and our motto is having fun while helping others. I want you to write what we can do for a spring project.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will's big personality does not come from me.
LARSY: Fire me up. Pepper me.
SODERBERGH: I think every time you meet will, you look at him and you say, are you kidding me? But together with his buddies, they have raised over $20,000 or the equivalent of 100,000 meals for Tarrant area food banks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about some fresh begets?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man from India.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These peaches are a delight.
SODERBERGH: When you see somebody who gets so engaged and gets so much of the community engaged, it's an endorsement of the battle we fight to end hunger.
LARSY: Thank you for taking the time to remember that no matter how tall or small, you've made a big difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: You've heard tonight of how -- of seemingly innocent exchange on the internet was used to dupe someone else. And as you heard earlier from Diane O'Meara, you don't want anything like this to happen to you.
Diane is back with us, along with Mario Armstrong, who is a tech pro.
Mario, let's talk about this and Diane.
MARIO ARMSTRONG, DIGITAL LIFESTYLE EXPERT: OK.
LEMON: There are people online saying, Don, you're being very judgmental like you don't understand what's going on. I don't understand what's going on. And I don't think -- listen, I don't think you have to have a sexual relationship to be in love with someone. That's not it.
But to be in love with someone, to have a relationship with someone, you do have to see them physically and be there with them and touch them and kiss them and whisper in their ear. Otherwise, you're not in a relationship with someone. It's not a real relationship.
Mario, am I wrong about that?
ARMSTRONG: Don, I think -- look, I think your -- look, everyone's going to have a different definition on what love means to them and what being in a relationship means to them. You obviously were growing up in an era where that he -- more of the touch and the physical connection meant more. We're growing up now, though, in a digital age. We have to raise our kids and our children to be digital citizens --
LEMON: I understand that. But that is not real.
ARMSTRONG: No, it is real. Absolutely. Don, it absolutely is real.
LEMON: I've been in a long-distance relationship before. But I established a relationship with the person --
ARMSTRONG: Did you Skype --
LEMON: You Skype and you do all those things. But I had met the person before and we had kissed each other. We had gone to dinner before. It was a real relationship, not a virtual relationship.
ARMSTRONG: That's the best online relationship. If there's any lesson that people should be learning from this, it is that is the best way to do it. You're going to meet people online. You're going to be able to Skype with them, see them, talk with them, chat with them. But you need to physically at some point meet these folks and establish some type of physical relationship in order for -- I agree with you. To be a fully fledged relationship.
LEMON: So you are not a Manti Te'o. Otherwise, that's what it becomes, Diane.
O'MEARA: Right. Well, the thing to remember here is exactly what is the acceptable timeline on online dating? Online dating, social media, Internet interaction, engagement, it's increasing, and it's going to continue to continue to increase. But at what point in the relationship do you say, OK, we need to meet face to face, we need to make a relationship concrete and become a reality by meeting?
ARMSTRONG: And oh, by the way, they tell you with these dating sites as well, be weary before meeting. Don't just jump to meet a stranger. Make sure you go with more than one person, you go to a public place. All of these things also tend to say don't just jump out to physically meet someone, establish a relationship online first, which is the exact opposite of what we usually learn to establish a relationship physically first.
LEMON: Exactly. And that's the whole --
O'MEARA: And I think the important lesson learned is you need to treat your online identity and online relationships the same you that do your offline relationships. I mean, and that goes with sharing your information. It's the same thing as would you walk around in a public place with your full name, date of birth, phone number, and just start handing business cards out with your photo on it?
O'MEARA: You need to have the same reservations, the same gut instinct as you do when you're participating online and engaging in these relationships. Don't just value the friend that facebook defines it as. Use your own detentions of a friend and really trust who you're revealing the most intimate details of yourself with.
LEMON: I agree with you. And I think that people really have it twisted. I know that people on social media are really upset with me right now. It is not real if you have not physically met the person and you don't know. It's not a real relationship.
If I have a facebook friend, it is a facebook friend but it is not a real friend like a high school friend that I went to college -- went to high school with or went to college with and it's someone I know and hang out and go to the movies. It's not the same thing.
But Mario, what are the steps you can take so someone doesn't take your image or try to pretend they are you and you never know what they're going to do with it?
ARMSTRONG: Yes, let me break this down for folks. This is really important. Number one, you can't stop anyone from taking your photo online, as we've seen here with Diane and other cases. If your photo was out there in public places, people can grab can that and use it. But here's what you can do to be proactive. Search on your images. A lot of people don't know that you can upload your facebook photos or your photos that are on these social network sites, you can upload them to Google search. You go to images.Google.com. And as you can see here on the screen you click the little photo icon and that will then prompt you to upload your own image that you want to see if that image is available on other sites. I did it with one of my photos that's being used on a lot of sites that I am aware of. But there may be sites using my image that I don't approve of. That's one way to find out. The other thing is do these video calls, make sure these people really exist, do a Google search on their real name, try to find out what their real name is.
LEMON: Make sure these people really exist? How about just meeting the person?
ARMSTRONG: I knew you were going to say that.
LEMON: That's all you have to do!
ARMSTRONG: This case would have definitely gone away a lot sooner had he done that. However, I'm glad that this case actually happened. I don't mean it happened in the way that it's affected Diane. I want you to understand that.
LEMON: I understand what you're saying.
ARMSTRONG: I really understand what she's going through is painful. But I think, Diane, you are a beacon of light and a beacon of hope for people that can realize, OK, this happened to me, she's standing up for us and she's teaching us how this is a major issue that we need to face and deal with.
LEMON: And it's very easy --
O'MEARA: As --
LEMON: Diane, I'm going to give you the last word. But I think it's very easy. Close the laptop, put down the PDA at some point, and actually have some human interaction.
So Diane, I want to give you the last word here since this story has disrupted your life like most of us can't imagine. Any last thoughts here?
O'MEARA: Right. Mario brings up a great point. It's just the simple fact that through all this, of course it's very trauma very traumatic and it's very infuriating but the fact of the matter is that through this I've realized there's a serious lack of education and awareness this happens every day. This isn't about me. This isn't about Manti Te'o and this tabloid story. It's about that this happens and we're just sitting hoping this doesn't happen to me, this doesn't happen to my daughter, this doesn't happen to my child. And that's simply not enough.
LEMON: Yes. And here, I have some advice for everybody out there. We're done. Get off social media. If you want to, keep watching the TV. Go out to a bar. Go out to a restaurant. And actually have some human interaction with someone else instead of a computer.
I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for Watching. Good night.