A local social media expert says it's nothing new.
Through Facebook, Twitter, and even online dating websites, it can be easy for someone to be fooled by a fake account.
IPFW's John Kaufeld says this scam can cause not just emotional pain, but financial loss.
By now, we know the woman Te'o was dating over the phone and internet isn't real.
Kaufeld says fake online profiles have been around for over twenty years.
"Really, you look at it, and we've had it online for years. We had it on America online, in text-based chat, we had it on instant messaging, we had it on bulletin boards, we had it on IRC chat, internet relay chat... We've had it forever," Kaufeld says.
Kaufeld says it can be tough to separate real from fake online.
"And you can't really tell the real ones from the unreal ones just by looking at them, because if someone's going to take the time to create a fake person out there, all they really have to do is come up with a really good story line," Kaufeld says.
Add in a few pictures, and he says, anybody can actually be anybody.
The documentary 'Catfish,' and the TV show inspired by it, captures this- showing people who fell in love with, or gave money to, people they thought were someone else.
Kaufeld says that's where it gets dangerous.
"If somebody's going to go out and be a con man, or a con woman, which is basically what you're dealing with here, then they're going to have a story and they're going to have something they sell you, and it's a classic plotline. I'm going to present this person, and I'm going to let you in," Kaufeld says.
He says one of the best ways to avoid being tricked- get off the computer, go outside, and meet with people face-to-face.
He says the electronic age has made people more comfortable with connecting through devices, leaving people open to a 'catfish.'
With the time all of us spend on social media, chat and other things on the internet, it's likely we've all encountered fake profiles.
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