One year ago, Anna Rowe was a mother-of-two living in Rough Common working as a teaching assistant in a primary school.
Anna, was the victim of an online romance fraud known as a catfish scam and she lost her job at the primary school.
She had been duped by a high-flying London lawyer who misrepresented himself on dating app Tinder to engage with her and then start a passionate 14-month relationship.
Anna, who had been looking for love, thought she had met the man of her dreams. He turned out to be married and still living with his wife but had nevertheless managed to weave a complex web of lies and deceptions.
She decided she had to warn others and launched a campaign to outlaw catfishing, which is the name for someone who creates a fake persona to trap someone.
She believes It’s really important to do so because the effect on people can be devastating.
After Anna found out the truth of her lover’s identity, she wound up in counselling and her decision to go public cost her the job in Faversham.
The man who deceived her had initially used an image of Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan as his profile picture before sending real ones to her. He called himself by a fake name, Antony Ray.
But when he stopped coming to see her, Anna needed to know why. With the help of a friend she discovered the awful truth and that she was not Antony’s only victim.
“He took advantage of my trust and took away my right to choose. Had I known, I would never have consented to a relationship with a married man, let alone a man who was actively having relations with multiple women simultaneously”.
“His behaviour was premeditated, yet the current law will not find his actions a criminal offence. That’s why I’m calling for creating fake profiles for the intent to use people for sex to be a crime.”
Anna has since spoken to politicians and police officers.
Her petition has received 43,500 signatures so far and has prompted a government Green Paper into catfish scams.
Anna’s story has been told around the globe. She has made TV and radio appearances and is determined to keep pressing on with the campaign.
Anna’s website is at https://catchthecatfish.com/
Good luck with your campaign, Anna
If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.