The latest episode of Catfish: The TV Show is more sad and convoluted than usual, and that’s saying something given the emotional journey of most of the lovelorn 20-somethings featured on the show.
Another week, another person seeking the truth about whomever they’ve been courting online without ever having met. Except, this week, the guys from Catfish failed miserably and actually apologised for letting everyone down in their “researching.”
Starting at the beginning, Joe Sumeriski believes himself to be having an online relationship-of-three-months with a woman named “Kari Ann Peniche” whom he met through a mutual friend, Rose, on Facebook.
Asked by Yaniv “Nev” Schulman, about “Kari Ann,” Rose insisted that they had talked on the phone although it’s “mostly business” and vouched for the girl’s legitimacy. The Catfish guys did the usual so-called searching (basically “doxxing” and reverse look ups, for example by pasting image URLs into Google Image Search to compares pixels of the same colour and find matches). They checked her IMDb Pro and phoned “Kari Ann’s” representation who curtly said he didn’t handle her personal life. Although Rose confirmed “Kari Anne’s” cell phone number and Nev made the call. ”Kari Ann” is also curt, and defensive, but agrees to meet… she arrives days later only for Joe, Nev, and the crew to realise it’s been Rose all along.
Kari Ann Peniche is a real person, and she’s really been in Playboy, but Rose created a fake profile with over 700 friends to impersonate her. Caught out and remorseless, Rose reluctantly deactivated the profile… for “24 hours” before turning it back on and adding 300 more people. That’s 1,000 following the fake page and 3,470 following the real one.
The real Kari Ann is a former Miss United States Teen, she made a naked tape with Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart, and she’s had some pretty serious substance abuse problems for which she appeared on the third season of Celebrity Rehab. For example, back in December 2012, TMZ.com reported that she allegedly inserted drug-free urine into her privates ahead of a drug test (which she denied). And back in July 2012, Fox News reported that “Kari Ann Peniche’s husband said their child tested positive for meth, and its her fault.” She is estranged from her husband Justin Williams who filed for divorce four months after they married in 2011, while she was still pregnant. He asked the judge for a DNA test because he wasn’t sure whether the baby was his.
The real Kari Ann reacted to Catfish with consternation at being featured at all. On the Sunday before the episode aired, she wrote: “MTV Catfish 1/7/13 @ 11/9c Joe & ????Me?????”
After the episode aired, she issued a statement: “I am sorry to anyone that may have been a victim of the fake profile that was featured on MTV catfish or any other fake profile of me that is out there… After seeing the catfish episode I feel kind of bad for that Rose girl who feels she needs to use other peoples image hiding behind their identity she said that she is addicted to it or something on the episode obviously there are some much deeper issues there and I can only wish her well and I hope she takes down the profile now! I’ve been advised that Rose has removed the fake site! Thank you!!! Kari Ann”