So it turns out Manti Te’o isn’t the only prominent athlete to have fallen victim to a social media seduction scam. Former South Carolina Gamecocks star pitcher Michael Roth revealed in his blog that he, like Te’o, was sought out by an apparently young, attractive woman seeking to develop a relationship.
Unlike the embattled Notre Dame linebacker, Roth didn’t fully buy in and didn’t go public with dramatic details.
“I was letting my ego get the best of me,” writes Roth, who was initially reached via text message while playing summer ball in Maine following the 2010 College World Series. “I was thinking this random smoking hot babe (I hadn’t seen photos of her yet!) somehow got my number and wanted me.”
Roth, a month away from starting his second minor league baseball season with the Angels, said the woman claimed to be Hope Porter, a blonde University of Texas student who got his number from a Gamecock fan in Omaha. They maintained contact for over a year.
“She sent me some pictures that (first) day. … and she was very attractive.”
And eventually very fake.
For college kids the ol’ bait and switch trick is “catfishing” with an empty hook. The still unconfirmed and much stranger Te’o story, underscored by Roth’s experience, shows how easy it is to reach top-level college athletes.
It helps when the star player is a smart pitcher/honor student. Roth was properly skeptical, unlike Te’o, Notre Dame administrators and journalists.
He investigated: “I did some research. Was this chick on Facebook? No. Did she have a MySpace (it was still only 2010)? Nope. Was she a student at UT? Not that I could find.”
Eventually, Roth looked up the woman’s phone number via Google. He learned it was linked to similar hoaxes.
“The guys in the chat room said they had confronted her about it,” Roth writes. “She said it was her Uncle. They pushed her further. Finally, she said she was initially doing a project to see if someone could fall in love over the phone. She was supposed to end it after a few months, but after talking with them for a while, she enjoyed it so much that she just kept doing it.”
Good-natured social media pranks are fun, though not when teens bully teens, senior citizens are duped and famous athletes fall in love with debt-ridden cousins who look like Miss Texas.
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