A Central Islip woman who appeared on MTV's "Catfish: The TV Show," a reality series investigating false identities in online dating, says that despite her episode's conclusion she still believes she was communicating with the genuine object of her affection.
Sheila Todd, 34, a single mother who works as a union representative at a cleaning company, had been direct-messaging with music-industry executive Richard A. Martin-Trowers aka Rich Dollaz of the VH1 reality show "Love & Hip Hop." Because she was communicating via his verified Instagram account, she trusted the connection enough to send intimate photos of herself when asked to. The reluctance of the person on the Dollaz end to meet in person or through FaceTime gradually made her suspect she was being "catfished" by someone other than the account's owner.
"I went on MTV's website and I got the 'Catfish' information and then I emailed them," Todd, an aspiring rapper originally from Wyandanch, tells Newsday. After that initial missive, she was directed to contact host Nev Schulman and his guest host, NBA star Nick Young, who investigated the situation in the episode that aired Dec. 12.
As events played out, the three of them met with Dollaz, who is in his late 40s, in a park in Long Island City, Queens. He told them that, unbeknownst to him, his 20-something nephew Rove had been the person communicating with Todd.
Todd maintains that despite her seeming acceptance of the show's conclusion that it was Rove, she believes it was Dollaz all along. "I didn't believe the nephew," she says. "A lot of things he said [were simply] fuel for the fire" of a made-up story. "I felt he was talking the fall for Richie. I asked him questions and a lot of things he was saying didn't add up. I let it go, but I didn't believe it was him."
Dollaz, she suspects, was using "Catfish” for self-promotion since “Love & Hip Hop” attracts "more of an urban crowd and 'Catfish' is more of a mixed crowd." She notes that after the episode shot, "He went on Twitter and was, like, 'I'm gonna be on "Catfish," ' [and elsewhere said] that Nick Young was coming on it. I could see he was kind of excited about it. I didn't tell anybody," because of a nondisclosure agreement, "and he's telling everybody."
Todd, who earned her GED while at Farmingdale College and then a degree in medical billing from Branford Hall Career Institute in Bohemia, says that, "After the show, Richie went live with his nephew on Instagram and apologized to me and let me know he was sorry and that nothing like that would happen again, and that if he could help me with music or anything like that. he would be happy to."
The events taught her, she says, that with online relationships particularly, "make sure the person is giving you as much as you're giving them. So I did learn."