Remember When Catfish Filmed An Episode in Syracuse?
Mike Pont / Stringer
June 25 is National Catfish Day, and what better way to celebrate than to look back on a nationally documented catfishing situation in Central New York?
MTV's hit show Catfish took to the streets of Syracuse to film an episode in 2019. Crews, including host Nev Schulman, were captured filming near Armory Square in April, and the episode aired in August. But this episode was unlike the many others in the show's seven-season run, in that it had what Nev loved calling Catfish's first "serial catfish stalker."
In the episode, a man named CJ from Syracuse seeks the help of Nev and guest cohost Justin Combs to find out if a girl he's been talking to for eight years is who she says she is. When he was 17, CJ met the girl, Shana, over Facebook and they talked for years, but she lived in New Jersey and whenever they would make plans to video chat, Shana would make up an excuse. Even after she moved to Syracuse, she wouldn't meet up with CJ.
And then she died. At least that's what a Facebook account for friend of Shana's told CJ. Out of the blue one day, he got a message from the account that said Shana had passed away. CJ was devastated, but two years later, he stumbled across a new Facebook account for the woman he had fallen in love with.
After some Internet snooping, Nev and Justin found that many other men in the Syracuse and Utica areas had been victims of Shana's catfishing, but none of them had ever met her in person. These men had stories where Shana had texted them, claiming she had seen them and describing what they were wearing. Creepy, right?!
It took some convincing, but "Shana" eventually agreed to meet up with the crew at Long Branch Park in Liverpool, and the woman CJ had fallen in love with turned out to be Rebecca, a 38-year-old mother of five who looked nothing like the woman in the pictures.
A reporter with CNYCentral spotted Nev in downtown Syracuse last April while filming for the episode.
In case you missed the original airing of Central New York's Catfish episode, you can stream it now (as Season 7, Episode 37) on Hulu.