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PROVO — Eight female students at Brigham Young University believe they were “catfished” by a woman supposedly from Texas.
“It was very disturbing to them, though there was no real imminent threat,” said BYU Police Lt. Arnold Lemmon.
Because there was no actual threat, the eight students cannot ask for criminal charges, Lemmon said. They suffered neither physical harm or a loss of property.
The impostor pretended to be a male suitor, building trust with the women for two years over the phone and social media. Often those who start these scams are building relationships to get access to personally identifying information or money.
None of the eight women ever met the person who posed as Hunter Anderson and Hyrum Young. Many, after learning of the deception, described feeling greatly embarrassed.
Police, however, can lend a sympathetic ear and can help students craft "no contact" letter to such impostors.
“We’ll caution them, because we have seen the dark side of this kind of stuff,” Lemmon said. “It’s a way for us to build a foundation so that we can assist them in getting a stalking injunction.”
The students hope to build awareness of social media dangers when they appear on an episode of the Doctor Phil show next month. One of the BYU students, Hilary Hayes, said she is happy more students are finding the courage to come forward.