It happened in February. I was scrolling through Bumble and matched with this guy named Philip Lee. His profile read: 36 years old, Paris-born Korean. He looked okay naman, the photo was kinda cute; he actually kinda looked like Park Seo Joon! There was only one photo on his Bumble account, though. Nothing was connected too; usually, people link their Spotify or Instagram, but I ignored those warning signs, because I was just mindlessly swiping. We chatted on and off on Bumble, and it went on for around two weeks.
I googled Philip Lee, but nothing appeared. When I asked him for his Facebook account, he said, "No, I don't have Facebook, I don't have time for that." So at first, I was thinking, baka he's just the type of person who doesn't like Facebook or Instagram—kasi may mga taong ganoon, e. Even LinkedIn, wala.
"By March, we were texting each other almost every day, for a week straight."
And then after the second week, he asked for my number so we can talk on WhatsApp. By March, we were texting each other almost every day, for a week straight.
When we moved the conversation to WhatsApp, the first thing he sent was a video, so it was so believable. The video was very businesslike: He was in a car, and he was saying hi.
Here's the weird part—we spoke TWICE on the phone. His accent checked out—softspoken, with an Asian twang. He also sent me a good morning video. The location of the video indicated on the app said United Kingdom, which matched what he told me, that he works in the UK at an oil firm.
"He's a well-traveled Korean born in Paris who now works in the UK, he's 36 with a stable job at an oil firm, he looks like a fucking model, and he LIKES me."
Red flag #1: Everything happened so fast. Within a week of talking on WhatsApp (three weeks into our communication at this point), he said, "I think I like you." It's weird kasi parang ang bilis, you don't even know what my Instagram is, or what my last name is, then you'll tell me you like me? It's a little weird.
We had this one conversation about the gym—he said he loves working out and that he'll send me photos. Tapos may photos talaga siya! He had photos of himself at the gym, and may six-pack siya, girl!
It was just too good to be true: He's a well-traveled Korean born in Paris who now works in the UK, he's 36 with a stable job at an oil firm, he looks like a fucking model, and he LIKES me.
Two of my friends knew about it. Kami ng friend ko, noong nakita namin yung six-pack abs, "Omigod girl, ang galing! Go for it!" But another friend told me, "Wait lang, parang it's too good to be true. Don't give too much information."
When I realized that it was going super duper fast, I started researching dating scams on Bumble (Here's the link of what I read). And apparently, there are dating scams that involve US military men and oil rig firms—professions that involve frequent traveling or zero cellphone reception, which could easily justify breaks in communication.
Red flag #2: Some of Philip's statements also did not check out. Like he said, "Oh, I'm going to Kuwait on Sunday for a project." And I asked, "How long will you be there?" He answered, "I'm not sure." Why will you sign a contract in another country and not know how long you'll be stationed there? 'Yun, medyo red flag na yun sa akin.
He even said, "After my time there, I'll visit you in the Philippines." That's their style, e. They'll butter you up. Then, when I was reading about catfishing, some people will actually coax you into sending private photos and then they'll use that against you as blackmail if you don't send money. There's money involved, usually. Some naman, they'll say they'll meet up with you, but they won't push through with it, they'll keep canceling, then at the last minute they'll say "Oh, I ran into an emergency, can you send me money?" They'll siphon off all your money until you have zero left. That's the style.
"But what gave him away was his WhatsApp profile photo—it was a stock image."
Thankfully, Philip never asked me for private photos or money; our "relationship" did not reach that level. I only sent outdoorsy photos and never gave him anything that will incriminate me in the future. He also did not send a dick pick or anything of that sort.
Red flag #3: I tried Google reverse image search. Of his two photos from Bumble, nothing came up. But what gave him away was his WhatsApp profile photo—it was a stock image. Ang daming lumabas of the same image he used on WhatsApp.
I didn't confront him, because if I did, he might even stalk me or whatever. So I just cut off all communication with him and blocked his number. I also reported him on Bumble, but I never got a reply.
Feeling ko, this real person's account got hacked. Kasi it happens, e. Your phone gets hacked, and your information gets purchased on the Dark Web. So people will actually buy those photos on the Dark Web and use them for dating scams.
"Kinilig ako, tapos t*ng*na, hindi pala siya totoong tao?"
My advice? Don't let your guard down, especially on dating apps. It's so easy to just swipe right without looking into tiny details, like what I did. Also:
- Don't give out your personal number until you meet in person. Use a messaging app first
- Google reverse image search works. Tap as many platforms as possible to see facets of his/her personality. What gave Philip away was his WhatsApp stock image photo, not what he personally sent me. And if you're given photos, reverse-search them ASAP.
Usually, scammers use photos of US military servicemen, but this time I feel like they’re testing out the waters for good-looking Koreans since Filipinos are obsessed with everything K-drama and K-pop. "Philip" definitely used this to his advantage.
- Stick to preferred or verified accounts on dating apps. And if there's only one photo, and no Instagram account attached to it, SWIPE LEFT.
- If they don't want to do a spur-of-the-moment video call, that's a warning sign.
- It's important to let at least TWO close friends know. One friend might be happy for you, 'cos you're dating again, but the other might say "Hey, careful lang." It's important to have that support system, and you shouldn't be shy to admit that you made a mistake. Tao ka lang naman and you have feelings also. Especially if you're single, you're more vulnerable to stuff like this.
"Philip" never reached out to me again. It hurts at first, because there's an emotional aspect involved. Kahit one week lang 'yun. It's also a little embarrassing; kinilig ako, tapos t*ng*na, hindi pala siya totoong tao? I dodged a bullet there.
For more stories on catfishing, click here.
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