PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o claims he's the victim of a hoax known as 'catfishing'.
He says he fell in love with someone who it turns out was not real. It was a fake romance conducted online and over the phone, but never in person.

Appearing today on 'Katie' he said he was fooled. So what does this term "catfish" mean and where did it come from?

The term comes from a documentary with the same name from a few years ago. Basically a young filmmaker had developed a relationship with a woman he met online, but he started to have doubts about her story. So he and a friend of his decided to do their research into this person and the process is their film, but spoiler alert, she doesn't turn out to be the person he thought he had fallen in love with.

To avoid becoming a victim, start with doing research into the person you're connecting with. Now there is a fine line with researching the person and becoming obsessive about them, but look through their Facebook friends, look up their name on Google. See if they are a real person. If they are things will pop up. The Catfish guys suggest that are all the images just of them on their Twitter or Facebook page? Are all the images really professional looking? Do they only have a few friends?

Some of these cases are very innocent. In some cases it's someone who is embarrassed about their look or their weight so they pretend to be someone else through pictures, but they are usually being themselves in the conversations. While that is still identity theft, it's wise to encourage the person to meet via Facetime or Skype. Especially if you're nervous about meeting in person, try having a face to face over Skype or Facetime to see if this person is who they say they are. Though some say watch for excuses of not being able to get the camera to work. Regular excuses of not having a camera, or not being able to make the camera work, can also be a red flag.

Most experts say, be careful of anyone who professes their love too quickly, asks for money, or says they are an american who is currently stuck overseas and is trying to get back home.

If you have any doubts, don't meet in real life. Make sure you've done your research ahead of time. If you feel like it's legit then choose a public place, and stay in a public place. Maybe go with a friend. Certainly tell someone where you're going and the name and all of the details of the person you're meeting.

And if it seems too good to be tue? Chances are it is.

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