Search icon


24th Mar 2022

Woman ends up dating man whose photo was used to catfish her in bizarre plot twist

Kieran Galpin


If Tinder Swindler had a happy ending

In a bizarre yet strangely touching turn of events, a woman from America is dating the man whose photo was used to catfish her a few months prior.

Marcus, an alleged marine engineer, had messaged Nicole Hayden of Palm Beach, Florida. His profile read: “I’m not for everyone but I’m OK with that.” The single mother of two said the messages began casual before turning romantic just a few days later.

“All of a sudden, it was starting to become really heavy,” she told News 6. “‘I love you, I want to marry you.’ I immediately knew something was wrong.”

After Marcus insisted that he meet her family at Thanksgiving, Hayden blocked him.

“Don’t trust anybody because anybody can hide behind a screen,” she said. “As women, we tend to ignore red flags.”

However one picture she had shared with Marcus that showed her on a beach was later edited to appear as if Hayden was posing nude. The stranger then allegedly used the photo to blackmail her, demanding $6,500 or he would send it to her family.

“They found me about a month later on my WhatsApp account and started threatening me,” she recalled. “They were going to find me and my kids.”

Luckily, the photo was never released and Hayden paid no money.

However in a strange twist of fate – and one which will undoubtedly be turned into a Netflix special at some point in the near future – Hayden saw “Marcus’” image pop up as a potential dating match. While the picture was the same, his name appeared to be Alessandro Cinquini, also known as Alex, a veteran with Carnival Cruise Line.

Hayden and Cinquini began messaging, then FaceTiming and have now been happily dating and living in Miami since January.

“The main goal (for the imposters) is to make money,” Cinquini said. “In this case, my picture is used to trick you, to create fake stories. You have to be careful.”

Cinquini has since received messages from across the globe, with many women saying his image is being used under various names, including Thomas Riley, Alex and Marcus.

One message detailed how a mother had lost $40,000 to a man calling himself Thomas Riley alongside Cinquini’s image.

“Honestly, the amount of accounts reported to me I cannot quantify,” he said.” Nicole is the first person I was able to meet that was targeted by a Catfish imposter.”

Related links: