PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. - A South Florida teenager said he was the victim of a hoax similar to the one that entrapped Notre Dame star Manti Te'o.
Keith Cordes, 18, said he has been a victim of catfishing, a hoax where a person poses as someone else online.
"Somebody contacted me on Facebook and started talking and kept on talking," he said.
His story is similar to the one told by Te'o, whose interview with Katie Couric aired Thursday.
"Her name is Nicole," said Cordes.
Cordes said he and the young model began spending hours messaging each other.
"Talking to the person late at night, when I went for a walk with my dog," he said.
Cordes said they occasionally spoke face to face on their iPads.
"Sometimes it would work for a second, then it would get really blurry and then go back to not working," he said.
Their relationship lasted eight months.
"After a period of time of meeting the person and talking to them over and over again, it's a normal person to talk to," said Cordes.
"You consider you met this person?" asked Local 10's Jen Herrera.
"I don't know," he answered.
"It was that real?" Herrera said.
"Yes, it was that real," he replied.
Cordes said he later received a call from a family member of Nicole.
"The plane Nicole was on crashed and they don't know what's going on," he said.
After calling hospitals and the Coast Guard and learning there was no plane crash, Kendi Cordes, the teenager's mother, realized this was a case of catfishing.
"Because he was hurt. He wasn't hearing us. We were parents at that point. I needed a way to prove to him something's up," she said.
"Extreme embarrassment. I was such a fool. I thought that I don't want anyone else to know," said Cordes.
Cordes has since put the hoax behind him. His family hopes Te'o can do the same.
"It's sad that the world is so mean and so ready to accuse when that's not always the case," said Kendi Cordes.
Cordes' mother tracked down the woman who was in the picture. The woman said she didn't know her photographs were being used.
Cordes knows who the young man is who was pretending to be "Nicole," but adds there is little that can be done legally because the fake identity wasn't used to commit a crime.
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