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Online 'Catfish' Scams Hatfield Man Out of $24,000

Online dating sites can result in a loss of more than true love.

A Hatfield man, 64, told police he met a woman online and was falling in love. The woman he met online only needed money, police said, to travel to Africa to star in a movie, according to a story in the Morning Call

In reality, the man was speaking to Maxwell Gbogboade, 43, of Silver Springs, Md. The Hatfield resident sent Gdogboade $24,000. When he went to take out an additional $46,000 from his bank, a bank teller became suspicious and alerted police, said the Call. Instead of meeting the courier used to deliver the cash to a hotel near the Philadelphia airport, Gdogboade instead met police. He later pleaded guilty to attempted theft by deception.

The act of stealing in this manner has been dubbed "catfishing." The Dr. Phil show recently explained via an article on its website.

"A 'catfish' is a person who creates a false online identity in the hopes of luring people into romantic relationships," said the show's website.

On the heels of Manti Te'o, a 2012 Heisman Trophy candidate, who played for the BCS championship-losing Notre Dame football team, Katie Couric also devoted an hour of her daytime talk show to speak of the trend. Her guest list, which included Te'o himself, as well has his family, also included the host of MTV's show "Catfish" Nev Schulman, who explained the coined term.

"Fisherman used to tank codfish on their way from Alaska to China, and they would keep them alive in the vats of these giant ships," explained Schulman. "Over the course of the journey, the codfish would obviously be bored and understimulated, and their muscle and flesh would become soft and tasteless."

He said to solve the problem, the fisherman came up with a new concept.

"So, someone had the idea, 'Let's put some catfish in these vats, and they'll chase these cod because they're predators, and it will keep the cod moving, it will keep them agile, it'll keep them fresh and tasty," he said.

This same concept was used when naming the show, and coining the term for online dating scammers.

"In life, there are people who are catfish," said Schulman. "They keep us all moving, keep us guessing, keep us on our toes, keep us fresh."

For a man in Hatfield, "Mary Douglas" turned out not to exist. In a press release from Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, she said Hatfield Township police traced "Mary Douglas" to a computer in Nigeria. The account was a fake one Gdogboade had created to steal money via his catfish method.

"Working with Philadelphia Police Department at the airport, Hatfield Township police located the courier, who turned out to be Gbogboade," said Ferman in a release.

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