As It Happens

After being deceived on Tinder, this U.K. woman wants a crackdown on fake profiles

Anna Rowe fell in love with a man who said his name was Anthony Ray. Then, months later, she found out he'd lied to her — and many other women.

Anna Rowe fell in love with a man who created a false persona on multiple dating apps

Anna Rowe says she there is unfair victim-blaming of those duped on dating sites, but others have reached out to her for support. (Submitted by Anna Rowe)

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Anna Rowe fell in love with a divorced businessman who said his name was Anthony Ray.

They met on the dating app Tinder and, after a couple months, decided to meet in person and start a relationship. Then,  months later, she found out he'd deceived her.

She said he used a fake name to create an online persona, was dating multiple other women under the same guise and was married.

Rowe is now speaking out about so-called catfishing —  the practice of using a fake name and identity on dating apps to trick someone into a relationship. She has started a petition calling on the U.K. government to clamp down on dating site fraud. 

On Tuesday, As It Happens spoke with Irina Manta, a law professor at New York's Hofstra University, who proposed a law that would impose a legal penalty on people who make substantial lies on dating apps, like a person's marital status, that result in sex. 

On Wednesday, Rowe spoke with As It Happens host Carol Off about her personal experience. Here is part of that conversation. 

Anna, first of all, how did this man — calling himself Anthony Ray — how did he describe himself on Tinder?

He's described himself as a divorced father.

He said that he was honest, loyal, genuine and, at the very bottom of his profile — which was what caught me because I really wasn't that interested in the photos — was that he hated poor communication and mind games.

And it was literally those words at the bottom that really caught my interest because I thought: "He's been hurt before and he's not going to hurt me."

Anna Rowe says she was deceived by a man on Tinder who used a fake name. She wants the U.K. government to force companies to make their users identifiable. (Submitted by Anna Rowe)

So a little over a year later, months and months of involvement with him including a personal relationship, you learned all that wasn't true, right?

Yeah, that's right. For the first three months of our relationship ... I was being groomed.

He learned about me so he could mirror back at me the person that I was, which made him appear like that cliché​d soulmate that you want. After three months, we actually met in person and we had six months together. On average it was a couple of times a week.

I think what people don't understand is ... any good liar sticks closely to the truth. ... He exaggerated how much he worked away and that's what gave him his opportunity to see other women as the same time as me.

I guess the most important thing you learned was that he was married.

Everybody focuses on the fact that he was married. My issue with him is the behaviour that he's displaying by using this fake identity. You know, it wasn't just a dating profile with a fake picture. This guy had a complete set of fake social media accounts. The whole shebang.

He also had a dedicated phone for his bank of women that he was collecting. To me this is more important ... the abuse, you know, the intention behind a fake identity and the only purpose he had for that was to use and abuse women. It was an added level of deception for me that he was married.

Don't get me wrong. I think people who have affairs are abhorrent.

In this photo illustration, the icon for the dating app Tinder is seen on the screen of an iPhone. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

So now you're speaking to others … what are people telling you? What's it been like for you to be out there telling everyone how you were duped?

It's humiliating and as [Irina Manta] said it is so humiliating and for that reason alone this is such an unreported behaviour. 

Even when I went to the police I didn't know the depth of his behaviour, at that point, because it was only when I went public after the police told me there was nothing I could do that the other women started coming forward.

I'm now one of 14 women that we know of that have heard me and come forward going, "Oh my God, that's the guy that did the same to me."

People aren't as ashamed to come and talk to me because they know it happened to me too and I'm not going to judge them.

You're asking the U.K. government to ensure that people, somewhere in these dating organizations, they know who the person is. How optimistic are you that you can get those changes?

It's going to be a tough one, but I'm optimistic that we'll get there.

There's a lot of MPs here that are in agreement with this too, that social media in general needs to start taking some corporate responsibility for their users because currently they do nothing.

The victim-blaming with this is crazy, but I also feel really privileged that I now have all these other victims come and talk to me because they trust me.

Written by Sarah Jackson. Produced by Kate Swoger. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.