catfishing
n. The elaborate fabrication of an online identity to trick a person into a romantic relationship.
catfish v., n.

Example Citations:
And while what happened to Manti Te'o is bringing the term to light, we shouldn't talk about catfishing like it's a new thing. Ever since there's been an Internet, there's been a fat guy in an undershirt pretending to be a hot model. Social media only makes the lie more believable and more noticeable.
—Scott Kleinburg, "Don't be the next Te'o," Chicago Tribune, January 24, 2013

Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson was unsympathetic to their claims, finding that their conduct was objectionable enough to warrant censure by the university. She specifically calls them out for "catfishing" their victim.
—Kashmir Hill, "'Catfishing' Gets Its First Legal Mention," Forbes, April 26, 2013

Earliest Citation:
Did you hear how Dave got totally catfished last month?! The fox he thought he was talking to turned out to be a pervy guy from San Diego!
—sbacker, "catfish," Urban Dictionary, July 22, 2010

Notes:
This term comes from a 2010 documentary called Catfish, about a man who falls for a woman whose online persona turns out to be a fake. The origin of the term is given an oddly positive spin in the film:

They used to tank cod from Alaska all the way to China. They'd keep them in vats in the ship. By the time the codfish reached China, the flesh was mush and tasteless. So this guy came up with the idea that if you put these cods in these big vats, put some catfish in with them and the catfish will keep the cod agile. And there are those people who are catfish in life. And they keep you on your toes. They keep you guessing, they keep you thinking, they keep you fresh. And I thank god for the catfish because we would be droll, boring and dull if we didn't have somebody nipping at our fin.
—Vince Pierce, "Catfish," Relativity Media, January 22, 2010

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