I Sent Explicit Photos and Videos to a Catfisher — Here’s Why I Did It

Like many other 23-year-old Australian girls living in small towns with non-existent dating pools, I created a Tinder account. This is how I met Stelios… the person who catfished me.

Stelios started messaging me on Tinder around April 2019, although I didn’t reply until one night a few months later in the year. I started chatting to him and then noticed how attractive I really found him. He was funny, he was sweet, we had so much in common even down our family problems. He listened to me, and I listened to him, I felt an emotional connection that I’d never felt in my life.

After a while, Stelios decided it would best to chat somewhere it was a little more private as we had been communicating through Tinder — we exchanged Snapchat and Facebook accounts. When Stelios added me on Facebook Messenger, I noticed that I couldn’t add him as a friend. To me, this felt like something wasn’t right but when I questioned him, he mentioned that he had been “banned from Facebook”. Looking back, this was the first red flag.

Torri Marshall
Image: Torrie Marshall, left

I shared a lot with Stelios. Not only about my daily life dramas and how I was feeling but also about my family. He made me feel important, heard, and that my life had value. This wasn’t something I had with a lot of men I had dated. He also told me a lot about his struggles, specifically that he had had a girlfriend for three years and that she had cheated on him. He also told stories of his problematic family and issues with drugs and violence.

With the highs also came the lows. We would fight and I found a lot of the time Stelios made things sexual. He would ask me to send intimate photos and videos of myself, things I was definitely not comfortable with. However, he had a way with words and knew exactly what to say to persuade me to do it.

He would send me love letters through Facebook Messenger and soon began to tell me every day via message and on the phone that he “loved me” and he “couldn’t wait to start a future together.” It was at this point, we had decided on a date to meet, after several failed prior attempts. I organised time off work and told all my colleagues about this amazing human I ‘’loved’’. The night before he was meant to be driving to Lithgow to stay with me for a week, he showed a ring that he got me so that when we weren’t together, it would remind me of him.

Image: Torrie Marshall, left

I was so excited and nervous because I truly thought I was going to be meeting the love of my life. Stelios had been asking me for a few days prior, to dress up for him and send him an intimate video of myself and I didn’t feel comfortable, so I decided not to. Midday came and he messaged me saying “I’m here, but I’m not coming to your house until you do what I asked”. I got really upset and did what he told me to do. I’d never sent a video like that before it didn’t feel right but I didn’t want to lose him. As soon as I sent it, he said he wouldn’t be long. He never came, he never replied, and he hasn’t spoken to me since.

Stelios vanished. His account was deactivated and could not be found, he removed me from Snapchat and deleted me off Tinder. I was devastated over the whole situation, I headed to my friend’s house because I wasn’t sure what to do. We did a Google reverse image search and found the real person who Stelios had been using his photos. I messaged who he claimed was his “ex-girlfriend” and she had no idea who he was nor had she ever seen him. I slowly started to realise that it was all fake. I felt disgusting, manipulated and confused.

I was extremely sad, crying all day and felt like I wanted to die. I decided it was best to stay with friends for a few nights as I didn’t trust myself to be alone. At my doctor’s appointment later that day, I opened up to her about what had happened. She was shocked but called the police for me so I could chat to them and see if there was anything they could do. When I arrived at the police station, I felt so stupid. They told me Stelios wasn’t a real person and that I needed to be more careful with who I talk to on the internet. The police officer mentioned that the only way that Stelios could get into legal trouble was if he shares my intimate videos and photos on the internet.

Torri Marshall
Image: Torrie Marshall, left

I felt scared and anxious. He knew my work address, where I lived, everything about me. I wondered ‘why me?’ constantly and what had made me the perfect victim. But even if I found out who Stelios was, I knew I could never trust him again.

If I could share a small piece of advice with others, it would be that being catfished isn’t a reflection of you, but entirely of the catfisher. Catfishers pray on the most vulnerable and if you have a good heart and an open mind, you make the perfect target. I was recently on an episode of Insight on SBS (airing Tuesday, March 28) where the topic of catfishing is explored more. My biggest word of advice though, is of course, always trust your gut instinct if something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not.

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