Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - In MTV's reality show "Catfish", the hosts set out to discover the truths and lies of online dating.
The show follows teens and young people who are in search of love but end up being tricked into internet relationships filled with lies and deception.
It's anyone's guess as to why someone would take on a false persona in the search for love, but authorities in the Northland say it runs the gamut.
"You're trying to be better looking, more athletic, more appealing, putting out a false persona, putting out false information," said Sgt. Thomas Champaigne with the Superior Police Department.
Sergeant Champaigne has investigated dozens of cases involving catfishing in the Northland.
Often times "catfishers" will make up a ploy to gain sympathy.
"We've seen where they've come up with horrible family events that tear at people's hearts to make them feel sad for the person that's involved, and grow that type of bond, grow that type of relationship," said Sgt. Champaigne.
Sometimes it is a genuine search for love. But other times it's for money.
Sergeant Champaigne said they have had cases in the Northland where people have exchanged inappropriate pictures, only to have the catfisher use them to extort money from the victim.
"There was a lady in her 80s that was duped into sending those kind of photos and she finally reported it to us when she was being extorted for money," Sgt. Champaigne said.
Authorities say the only real way to avoid being caught hook, line and sinker is being aware of who you're talking to from the start.
"Everybody these days has a digital footprint, you should be able to get some semblance if they are a real person," Sgt. Champaigne said.
In Catfish: The TV Show, both parties typically end up meeting in person. Should a relationship go that far, Sergeant Champaign has some sound advice.
You'll probably want somebody with you before you meet that person in real life. You don't know what kind of person they will be, except for what you've been told online,"