A good catfish will know how to cover his bases: leave no trace of phone records, create convincing social media profiles, toss red herrings into the mix whenever possible.
A bad catfish? Well, you might as well ask a guy named Antonio, or should we say James, or should we say Jay. Suffice it to say, the newest schemer’s plan did not go off without a hitch.
On the hit show’s most recent episode, a 23-year-old single mother named Angel from Valdosta, Georgia, sought out the help of Nev and his wife Laura. Angel said she’d fallen for 25-year-old Antonio after he reached out to her on a dating app in 2018. Since then, they'd cemented a relationship, Angel said, adding that they’d even exchanged I-love-yous.
Still, for all of Antonio’s appeal, there were obvious red flags (WHO COULD’VE SEEN IT COMING?!). Antonio, who said he worked at a nightclub as a DJ, lived in the same town as Angel but was always reluctant to meet and wouldn’t accept her Facebook request. Even more alarmingly, Antonio had all but asked for financial support from Angel after claiming that he’d been hospitalized.
And the money trail didn’t stop there…
Across more than 20 transactions, Angel admitted that she’d sent Antonio close to $400 -- and even agreed to help him pay his phone bill. But when she went to settle up, she noticed the name on Antonio’s account wasn’t listed under “Antonio James,” as he’d said it was but, instead, belonged to “Mr. Williams.” Immediately, Nev and Laura knew they had a con artist on their hands, but Nev said he was surprised that — if Antonio was trying to shield his identity — he’d so willingly give out the location of what Nev and Laura would eventually deem to be his real workplace, a bar called Déjà Vu.
After some investigating, Nev and Laura concluded that Antonio had stolen the identity of a musician named EazieDaGod, who had nearly 25,000 followers on Instagram. Even more troubling, the couple got in touch with Eazie’s manager, who said his team had been trying for years to scrub the Internet of the scam artist — whom she’d identified as Antonio — to no avail.
Convinced their suspect was hiding in plain sight, Nev and Laura drove to Déjà Vu for answers. They asked the space’s manager if he knew of anyone on staff named Antonio or James, but it didn’t ring a bell for him or any of his bartenders. Still, Nev and Laura were convinced they were on the right track. The discovery came with consequences, though, and the revelation reduced Angel to tears when she learned what the detectives had found.
“It’s heartbreaking to know that somebody is actually using me,” she said.
A day later, the very same bar manager Nev and Laura had met called Nev and said one of his employees had overheard a security guard gloating about how he’d been scamming women online and that he went by the name “Antonio.” He called the women he’d duped “trophies,” and Nev and Laura were horrified to learn that the man was the very same security guard who’d let them into Déjà Vu. The manager said he’d only ever called the guy Jay, so it didn’t occur to him that the security guard could have been the James that Nev and Laura sought.
After finally confronting the security guard, whose legal name was James Williams (he went by Jay), Nev, Laura and Angel finally convinced him to cop to his scheming, and James proceeded to admit to conning hundreds of women out of money over the course of 15 years. He called his catfishing a “coping mechanism” to deal with depression that stemmed from not having an ideal body type, but Laura called BS and quickly reminded him of his “trophies” remark.
“That doesn’t sound like somebody going through a hard time,” she said.
Unsurprisingly, Angel and James didn’t leave on good terms, and James failed to make good on his eventual promise to pay Angel back. Still, while the jig was up, James could certainly take some solace from the fact that he’d probably earned standing in Catfish history books (though maybe for the wrong reasons): After all, if he’d never told Angel that he’d worked at Déjà Vu, he’d have probably continued to get away with his games.
What do you think — was James’ error Catfish’s biggest ever? Share your thoughts on the episode and the latest season!