Catfish has been an MTV staple for seven years and more than 125 episodes, but on tonight’s installment, for the first time, Nev and team encountered a prized catch that wasn’t content hiding in deep seas — instead, she’d lured her prey into broad daylight to scout them for herself. The weird thing, though?
They never knew.
As part of the latest detective adventure, and with the help of Bad Boy VP and Diddy heir Justin Combs, Nev took on the case of CJ, a cook from Syracuse, New York, who’d met nurse and mother-of-one Shana eight years prior, when she was 21 and he was 17. CJ first reached out to Shana on Facebook after noticing they had friends in common, and it only took a short time before the two began sharing declarations of love.
But things didn’t quite add up. Shana, who lived in New Jersey, always had an excuse for why she couldn’t FaceTime. And even when she eventually moved from the Garden State to Syracuse, she refused to make concrete plans.
But here's the particularly crazy part: At one point, Shana’s friend Destiny — whom CJ had never met — emailed CJ saying Shana had died. Soon after, both Shana’s and Destiny’s Facebook pages disappeared. And, suffering what he believed to be a genuine loss, CJ moved on and found romance elsewhere.
…Until two years later when he found Shana’s resurrected FB page. She apologized, saying that she had been through a lot, including a violent relationship — and even though CJ knew it was a risk, he took Shana back.
“Texting a dead girl!” Nev said incredulously. “You broke up with a real, living person for a Facebook zombie?”
Still, Nev was intrigued, so he and Justin set out for Syracuse. And while the former was happy to help, he had serious doubts about where the chase would lead.
“The level of boldness of Shana’s lies I think are the biggest we’ve ever seen,” Nev said.
The lies would only intensify, though. Upon some searching, Nev and Justin uncovered a GoFundMe page that claimed Shana’s daughter had cancer and they needed help with medical bills. Quickly, the sleuths began reaching out to some of Shana’s friends to corroborate the story.
One guy, Pape, claimed to have been "dating" Shana for eight years but said she had never been willing to meet. Another man named Naji shared a similar story.
Even more alarming, Naji said that Shana once showed up to his workplace without him knowing and texted saying that she’d seen him. To validate her claim, she described what he was wearing. Pape said she’d done the very same thing to him after she texted him an address and told him to meet her there.
“We’ve never had a serial stalker catfish before,” Nev said. “That’s a creepy, creepy first.”
After relaying their findings to CJ, Nev and Justin eventually decided to confront Shana in person with CJ in tow, hoping the address she’d given Pape was her real location. But before they hit the road, Shana texted CJ, and, in signature style, attached a photo she’d taken of Nev and Justin in the lobby of their hotel.
Finally, though, Shana agreed to meet at a nearby park. But it was there that “Shana” officially died (figuratively speaking, this time), and the Catfish crew met Rebecca, the character’s virtual puppeteer.
Rebecca, a 38-year-old mother of five who admitted she’d lived in Syracuse the entire time, said she initially made the Shana page to try to catch her ex cheating. The GoFundMe was a hoax and, in case you hadn’t guessed, Rebecca was playing the part of Destiny too. She said killing Shana off was her intended way out of the mess, but when she saw that CJ was hurt, she couldn’t help but jump back into the game.
Rebecca also claimed that while she started the page for fun, she eventually developed feelings for CJ and never meant to hurt him. Nev, though, reminded her that she’d sabotaged some of CJ’s real relationships; she claimed to have forgotten that she'd interfered, and when CJ had enough, he bowed out, and the case of Shana was finally over.
In a subsequent meet-up, Rebecca apologized for her actions, and she and CJ agreed to be friends. That, however, lasted about a week before CJ said he was “over it” and cut Rebecca off completely. But do you think they’ll ever open up communication again? And how do you think CJ’s story ranks among Catfish’s wildest episodes? Share your thoughts, then be sure to check out a new episode Wednesday at 8/7c!