Not even Canadians are immune to catfishing.
A woman in Saskatoon is banned from the Internet for six months after admitting she created a fake Facebook profile using pictures of a pageant contestant. She flirted with young men by promising to go on dates with them, but instead conned them into giving her money.
Melissa Brandon, 26, pleaded guilty Tuesday to impersonating Brittany Bjerland, a former Miss Saskatchewan contestant. Between June 2011 and January 2012, Brandon befriended several man, telling them various tales to extort money from them. She even told one man that a family member was dying of cancer.
Brandon said some men "ponied up quite a significant amount of money" to score a date with what they thought was a former beauty queen.
Similar to a case in Britain, it was a friend of Bjerland's who alerted her of the impersonation. She took the case to police and told Facebook to pull Brandon's page.
"She feels violated that her face and name were used to con young men out of money," said prosecutor Val Adamko. Brandon was charged with impersonated Bjerland.
The men who fell for the scam did not want to press charges due to embarrassment, said Adamko. Brandon has paid the money back to the men with the assistance of her parents.
Brandon's defense lawyer said she is suffering from serious mental health issues and that she's currently in counseling. She claimed that it started as a "stupid joke" but escalated quickly. The judge initially agreed to grant her a 14-month conditional discharge but decided the punishment should also involve prohibiting the use of social media.
So, Brandon is only allowed on the Internet for educational or employment purposes for the first six months.
"We are taking bullying to new heights and I label [Brandon] as an absolute bully because that's what the ultimate result of her behavior was. She emotionally destroyed another young female," said Judge Albert Lavoie.
"I can't solve that here today, but it is one of the challenges the courts are going to have to face, how we are going to deal with this."
Photo via melissamoody/Hashgram