14 Famous People Who Were Tricked, Bamboozled, And Scammed By Online Imposters

It may be hard to believe that people are still getting catfished — tricked by someone else who's pretending to be someone they're not online — but, hey, Catfish is still going strong. TBH, it can happen to anyone — even famous people.

Here are 14 celebs who got catfished online:

1.Drew Barrymore was tricked by one of her dating app matches. On The Drew Barrymore Show, she said, "This guy on my dating app said he was the quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams... He was not the quarterback for the LA Rams. He's a musician that thought he was being cute."

Closeup of Drew Barrymore
Kristina Bumphrey / Variety via Getty Images

The guy also called her "Drewski."

She said, "I was like, 'I hate you. You pithy, deceiving, playful — you've made me feel stupid. I don't know who you are. I feel so dumb. Why did we have to get off on this foot? I hate you!'"

2.After Charlize Theron's friend Lilly Singh helped her set up an Instagram account, Charlize didn't realize she was following a lot of fake accounts in lieu of her celebrity friends. On A Little Late with Lilly Singh, she said, "I was following 'Emily Blunt'... But I wasn't really following Emily Blunt. And somebody was like, 'I don't think Emily...Emily's not on social media.' And I was like, 'Oh, she is. I follow her.' I was like, writing her. I was like, 'Hey Em! What's up Evil Sister?!'"

Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt
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She continued, "[I was] writing to some crazy person who's, like, obsessed, and probably stalking her in a dangerous way."

3.Catfishing actually predates social media. When Danielle Fishel was 12, an adult man wrote her fan letters, pretending to be another young girl. After they began exchanging letters, her new friend began sending pictures of her brother, a "good-looking guy" who was "several years older." She also included her phone number, so with her mom's permission, Danielle called — only to get the brother's voicemail.

Closeup of Danielle Fishel
David Livingston / FilmMagic / Via Getty

On her podcast Pod Meets World, she said, "It’s her brother’s voicemail because it’s his house. They live in an apartment together, but her name isn’t anywhere on the voicemail... The way it all came out is because I kept calling her, and I left my phone number, and she wouldn’t call me back. Then we got a letter from her brother saying that she had died, and my mum woke up in the middle of the night and was like: ‘She never existed, it’s always been him!’ And then he started showing up at my school and telling people he was there to pick me up."

4.In 2012, Wipeout host John Henson spent a few weeks communicating with Katherine, a woman who claimed that her daughter, Scarlett, was dying of neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer. He exchanged emails with the young fan. Katherine even sent him pictures of Scarlett in the hospital. However, John saw red flags when Katherine wasn't able to come up with any info about her daughter's doctors, so he sent the emails to a private investigator who was a family friend. Quickly, the PI discovered it was all a lie, and that the pictures of "Scarlett" had been stolen from memorial blogs for a real little girl who'd died.

John Henson
Craig Sjodin / Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

John shared the story with a Nightline producer, who decided to investigate it herself. She discovered that "Katherine" was actually Hope Jackson, who lived in Wisconsin.

5.The same catfish targeted Brad Paisley and his wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley. In a statement shared with Nightline, Kevin Lovewell, who arrested Hope Jackson, said, "[Paisley] also told me that [Jackson] had asked him if he would call her dying daughter and sing the song 'Amazing Grace' to her over the telephone, and he did. While conducting my investigation, I spoke with Hope Jackson, and she stated to me that she knowingly made up the story about her having a dying daughter and that she used photographs that she had found on various websites on the internet to commit this and other scams on unsuspecting people."

Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Brad Paisley
Terry Wyatt / Getty Images for The Michael J. Fox Foundation

The statement continued, "She stated that she had been conducting this type of activity for at least four or five years. She also stated that there were other victims."

The Nightline producer discovered that the catfish had already been arrested for theft of services for having Brad sing to her under false pretenses.

She's scammed other celebrities as well, including Kate Gosselin, Jill Wagner, Little Big Town, Natalie Grant, Carmen Hope Thomas, Mandisa, and Francesca Battistelli.

However, she never asked for money, and she was reportedly seeking emotional connections and attention.

6.Catfish: The TV Show host Nev Schulman was actually catfished twice. The first time, as captured in his documentary Catfish, a person posing as an 8-year-old named Abby messaged him on Myspace to ask for permission to paint one of his pictures that had been published in the newspaper. She sent him some of her impressive paintings, and he ended up befriending her entire family. He also fell in love with Abby's half-sister, Megan. However, as the documentary revealed, Abby, Megan, and all of their other family members were actually profiles run by the same person — a married woman named Angela Wesselman.

Closeup of Nev Schulman
Cindy Ord / WireImage / Via Getty

However, the paintings were her own work.

In the end, Nev forgave her, and they remained on friendly terms.

Then, several seasons into his TV show, Nev was catfished again. On an episode, he explained, "A few years ago, I saw that a Twitter account with a lot of followers had been tweeting at me. So I just engaged with her. I was single at the time. She seemed kinda cute and funny... Then, because she was so good at social media, I ended up hiring her. She was gonna, like, run all my stuff. Anyway, she was like, 'Just generate a one-time password to your Twitter account so I can see who's following you.'"

Nev Schulman
Eugene Gologursky / Getty Images for MTV

He continued, "I was like, 'Here.' And then, one night, it's like one or two in the morning, and I see I have a direct message on my Twitter. So I go to it, and it's from a guy I've never seen before. So what I didn't know is that she would meet guys on her own page, and then, if they ever asked her, 'How do I know you're real?' she'd send them a message as me and confirm. And then she would delete it right away. So she was clearing her messages right under my nose for months!"

7.Tracie Thoms was tricked by a super fan named Sammie on Twitter. She helped promote Tracie's projects and befriended one of her real-life friends. However, trouble began when Sammie made a fake profile for fellow fan "Reese" — then killed her off, alleging she died from cancer. Sammie even sent Tracie videos from her cousin's funeral, claiming it was Reese's. After contacting the funeral home and confronting Sammie, Tracie reached out to Catfish.

Tracie Thoms
Paul Archuleta / Getty Images

On the episode, Sammie admitted the truth, and she revealed that she invented "Reese" because she felt that no one in her real life understood her love for Tracie and her other favorite celebrities. However, once things started to snowball, she killed Reese off as a way to end the lie. Ultimately, Tracie forgave her, and Sammie said that she moved on from online fandom.

8.In 2013, former NFL player and sports commentator Pat McAfee was contacted by a "smoking hot blonde" who went by "Abigail Johnson" on Twitter. At first, he ignored her, but eventually he responded. However, he became hesitant after dreaming she was actually "a hairy fat man at an airport" — and then he saw her on an episode of Catfish.

Pat McAfee
Steve Granitz / FilmMagic / Via Getty

In 2021, he told The Complex Sports Podcast that she tried to get him to meet up with her after his away games in Houston two years in a row. However, he ignored her, and after the second time, he had an "epiphany." He sent her a message that said, "When you write the book of you catfishing people...I want you to have a chapter on me saying, 'You're fucking fake.'" He never heard from her again.

9.For six years, singer Casey Donovan was in an online relationship with "Campbell," a man who'd only talk on the phone. Eventually, he introduced her to his bestie, Olga — the woman who'd been pretending to be Campbell the entire time.

Casey Donovan
Sam Tabone / Getty Images for Mary Poppins Australia

On I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! Australia, Casey said, "It started at 16, I had never had a boyfriend, I was always a kid that was a bit different, no one was ever interested in me and this guy was telling me that he loved me... It was hard to find out that it was all a lie."

10.For two years, Thomas Gibson was reportedly catfished by a woman from North Dakota. She alleged to TMZ that they met on Twitter then began exchanging explicit videos and pictures, which she stole from porn websites. However, she claimed they stopped talking after she received a letter from his lawyers informing her that he knew her pictures were fake.

Closeup of Thomas Gibson
Michael Tran / FilmMagic / Via Gettys

She also leaked one of the videos he allegedly sent her from a hot tub to TMZ.

11.In 2017, Bella Thorne reportedly intended to message Cole Sprouse in response to his recent Instagram post. She allegedly sent the post and said, "Wow" — but accidentally messaged a fan account rather than the real Cole.

Closeup of Bella Thorne
Claudio Lavenia / Getty Images, Araya Doheny / Getty Images for Baby2Baby

The fan who claimed Bella accidentally messaged them tweeted, "Bella thorne sent me a message (probably by accident) and then deleted it straight away lmao [sic]."

12.In 2015, Sister Wives star Meri Brown, who was married to Kody Brown at the time, had a six-month online relationship with a businessman named Sam Cooper. However, it turned out that the person behind "Sam" was really a woman named Jackie Overton.

Closeup of Meri Brown
TLC / Via

At time time, Meri told People, "During an emotional and vulnerable time earlier this year, I began speaking with someone online who turned out to be not who they said they were. I never met this person, and I regret being drawn into this situation, but I hope because of it I can help others who find themselves in similar circumstances."

On Sister Wives Look Back: How We Started, Meri denied having an affair.

On the show, Kody blamed the incident for "dissolving" their marriage. However, in 2023, Meri told People, "I'm going to clarify something here, and this is what a lot of people really misunderstand, and that is the fact that a lot of people look at the catfishing as a defining moment of the demise of our marriage or even the family. And it's really not, because there was a lot of things that were happening for years prior. [Looking] at that moment as the thing that broke the marriage is very inaccurate."

Meri and Kody separated in 2022. Afterwards, Jackie — still posing as Sam — tweeted, "My comment so the tabloids stop contacting me. Once upon a time we fell in love and we were happy together. We laughed until we didn’t. I know she will find a new guy and be happy. Leave her alone."

13.In 2012, college football star Manti Te'o dedicated his season to his long-distance girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, and his grandmother, both of whom had recently died. The story was reported nationally. However, in early 2013, Deadspin reported Lennay never existed. There was no record of her death or her birth, and her pictures had been stolen from another woman's Facebook. The report also revealed that, though the couple had reportedly met in person after a Stanford football game, they actually connected via Twitter and never met in person. The real person behind Lennay's account was Naya Tuiasosopo, a former classmate of the woman whose pictures had been stolen.

Manti Te'o

In the 2022 Netflix documentary Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist, Naya revealed that she used tactics she saw on Catfish, which was airing its first season at the time.

The incident took place before Naya began her transition, and at the time, she was struggling with "something inside of [her] that just wanted to scream, 'Why am I different?'" After the story broke, she moved to American Samoa, became part of an LGBTQ+ community, and lived quietly away from the media storm.

14.And finally, Iggy Azalea told The Cruz Show, "There was this one fan, and I was like, 'Ooh, I like his fan. This fan's cool. I'm gonna add them.' And then [my mom] texts me and was like, 'Um, you know I'm 'Azalean For Life,' right? That's me.'"

Iggy Azalea onstage
Ethan Miller / Getty Images

She continued, "And I was like, 'Oh my god, I'm friends with my mother?! By accident?! This is so lame! So lame... And I felt so embarrassed. I was like, 'I know that. Obviously, I can tell it's you.' But I didn't. I didn't know that it was her, so she was like, 'Yeah, we were talking to each other back and forth.' I was like, 'This is so lame.' So I guess I really do like my mother after all."