A New Zealand blogger has been forced to face the dark side of being a public figure after discovering another woman used her identity to 'catfish' an overseas man.
Known for starting the online weightless community Motivate Me, and being the face of her personal blog, Makaia Carr is no stranger to being recognised. But one fan has taken it too far, stealing her identity to engage in a seven-year relationship with an overseas man.
'Catfishing' is the practice of pretending to be someone else online, often for financial or romantic gain. The term comes from the 2010 documentary of the same name.
Ms Carr told Newshub she found the whole experience "really quite freaky and a bit creepy".
She said when she first received messages from an American boxer, she passed it off as spam. But he persisted, sending screenshots of messages he had sent and received from a New Zealand woman.
"He was like I need to let you know what's happening," Ms Carr recounted.
The American man had been involved in a romantic relationship with a New Zealand woman, who had been using screenshots from Ms Carr's public accounts and Snapchat stories to create a fake online identity.
Ms Carr said she felt "freaked out" when she saw the messages back and forth, many of them of a romantic and sexual nature.
"There were pictures of me at festivals, doing a float tank, even one of me and three girlfriends drinking."
She says she feels sorry for the man on the receiving end, as "he was really embarrassed" by the nature of the messages.
He realised he was being catfished when he watched Makaia Carr in a boxing match online, and realised the crowd was chanting the wrong name. Through some investigation, he discovered he was being duped.
Ms Carr said she also feels sorry for the woman who did the catfishing, who Newshub has chosen not to name.
A friend of Ms Carr tracked her down online, using the email address and phone number given in the messages. The woman has a family, including two children.
"I can tell from her Facebook profile she's quite a lonely woman. She suffers from depression," Ms Carr said.
"She gave a big apology which I thought was big of her… she's highly embarrassed".
The catfish wrote in the letter that she knew "an apology is definitely due".
"It was only ever her pictures, which I know is completely wrong and a complete invasion of her privacy. I know this might sound ridiculous and most likely insincere but i feel ... sick ... about it ... at the time and now.
"Please just let her know its not happening anymore, I stopped back when I stopped talking to that person.
Ms Carr said the experience has made her rethink the way she presents herself online.
"I don't even post now when I go out walking alone, when previously I wouldn't have even thought about it," she said.
"I'm a bit paranoid now."
She said the experience has also made her wary of how her children act online, especially her young daughter.
"I'm telling her you should always be careful ... anyone can pretend to be anyone online."
She also has a message for the woman behind the fake profile.
"I'm hoping she finds help for her depression and anxiety and she can get to a place where she can be proud of who she is."