A Soldier's Story
Once upon a time, there was a very gullible Purple Heart recipient named Anthony...
Anthony, a medically retired veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart for his valour.
Marq, with whom Anthony's been in an online relationship for seven months, though they've "known" each other longer.
One of the photos Marq sent Anthony also features a guy named Robert, and Anthony knows him IRL. When Anthony asked Robert about Marq, Robert told Anthony his name was Josh.
According to Anthony, Robert doesn't like him, so Anthony doesn't assume Robert would tell the truth about Josh/Marq. When Anthony travelled from his home in Texas to Mississippi, where Marq lives, he waited two hours in a restaurant and Marq never appeared; Marq later told Anthony that he'd been carjacked, and run over by the car. He sent Anthony a photo of his injured hand, which clearly belongs to a white person whereas Marq is African-American; Marq claimed his hand was discoloured because it was swollen.
Nev pulls up the Twitter profile Robert had said was the Josh he knew; Nev tweets at Josh to call him, which Josh does right away: he's heard of Catfish and shruggingly says he guesses someone's pretending to be him. Josh readily agrees to videochat, so Max and Nev can clearly see that the person depicted in all of Marq's photos is actually Josh, who says that people steal his photo for online dating-fraud purposes all the time; he records a video clip in which he identifies himself to Anthony and wishes him well with the shitstorm that awaits (I'm paraphrasing). Next, Anthony having given Nev and Max Marq's phone number, they search the number and immediately find it registered to someone named Framel. Searching "framel_200," they find a few video clips Framel had uploaded in which he talks to the camera.
The Presentation Of Findings
Watching Josh's video, Anthony cries. Next, Nev plays one of the Framel videos, and Anthony confirms that the voice is the same as the one he's been talking to on the phone. Nev calls Framel and gets him to agree to meet Anthony (and the Catfish crew).
When they meet in person, Anthony studiously avoids looking Framel in the eye. Framel says he never intended to hurt anyone, and that he loves Anthony "as a person," and is "in love with [Anthony] as [his] partner." Anthony is obviously embarrassed (and disappointed in a lookist way, like all these marks are), and when he asks whether Framel was at the restaurant when Anthony was waiting for Marq, Framel admits that he was, but that he couldn't face Anthony at the time. He kept the lie going because he didn't want to lose Anthony.
The Post-Confrontation Confrontation
The Catfish crew, plus Anthony, go back over to Framel's, where he's enlisted two friends -- Stephanie and Lagarius -- to vouch for his character, I guess. They are pleasant enough until Anthony gets aggressive with Framel, saying that Framel didn't own up to anything. Framel very unapologetically says he was immature and shouldn't have involved Anthony in his online alter ego. Anthony demands that Framel admit to being "a fucked-up person." Cornered, Framel starts yelling back that he's not fucked up anymore. Anthony says he will hit Framel in Framel's own house. Framel tells him to "try it." Everyone's voices get higher and louder until Anthony abruptly says, "Okay. I forgive you. I'm good." Once he's gone, Framel looks upset, kind of for the first time. Then Anthony is convinced to come back again to listen to Framel's sob story about childhood surgeries and inner pain and how he comforted himself with food and had low self-esteem. He says he needs Anthony's forgiveness so that he can move on. Anthony sincerely says he accepts Framel's apology and forgives him.
Anthony wanted answers and feels like he got them. Framel is happy to be forgiven by "an amazing person." Nev takes a group photo, in which Anthony does not touch Framel, but then they do hug.
Two months later, Anthony's not dating: "I just need to work on me, period." He "kind of" misses Marq. Framel took down Marq's profile, but goes online as himself now, and is seeing somebody. Framel hopes he and Anthony will be friends again someday.
The Life Lessons Learned
Listen to Robert, even if you think he doesn't like you. Do a reverse lookup on your shady boyfriend's cell. Your shady online boyfriend has not been carjacked. If you think something's up with your shady online boyfriend, trust your instincts rather than what he tells you especially if what you think is up is that he's a liar. Always insist on a videochat!
For Patriot Week we ask:
Who are America's greatest liars?
- Mark Felt
- Frank Abagnale Jr.
- Kevin Trudeau
- Mark Sanford
- Stephen Glass