Paul ‘Bigun’ Ashbee has spoken out about his catfishing horror and called for tighter controls on Internet dating sites after being duped.
The cult Manchester figure, known for his long-standing friendship with Liam Gallagher of Oasis, turned to Tinder to find love but was left shaken after two dates he fell for online turned out to be dishonest.
In the first incident, a year ago, Paul spent weeks messaging a woman who turned out to have been using someone else’s photos.
More recently Paul, 53, fell for another potential match who claimed to know nothing about him, but had a copy of his book about his life with Oasis in her bathroom.
Speaking about the first encounter he recalled: “For two weeks I was messaging her but I kept getting excuses about work.
“She was supposed to be 38 but she must have been 68.
“I felt physically sick to realise she was fake.
“I asked ‘who are you?’
“She was a completely different woman.
“She said ‘why are you being like that? does it matter?”
Paul says he ran ‘like Forrest Gump’ when he found another date had a copy of his tell-all book Giving it the Bigun: Oasis, Manchester, Football and Me.
“I think she thought I would be taking her into a life of fame,” he said.
Paul, who made music history when he introduced singer Liam to his childhood friend Bonehead, is now calling for a passport application-style system before someone is accepted to use a dating site.
“We don’t realise who we are messaging,” he said.
“There needs to be security checks.
“I don’t want sympathy, I just want to help other men and women. The first experience had me on my knees and questioning everything.
“In the 80s you would go out and meet someone but now you feel obliged to go on a dating site.
“And now everything is worse because of COVID and you can’t go out. Mental health and suicide is going through the roof.
“Thankfully it hasn’t knocked my confidence but it made me think ‘what is this?’
“Security needs to be like you’re applying for a passport.”
Catfishing describes the act of faking an identity online in order to lure someone you’ve never met into a relationship.
It got its name from the 2010 thriller documentary Catfish about a relationship that took a turn for the unexpected.
Under the current UK law, catfishing itself is not illegal, although the deception can lead to offending.
In 2017 Kym Marsh told of her ‘catfishing’ ordeal after receiving flowers from a man who wrongly believed he had been dating her for 10 years.
The Corrie favourite made the horrifying discovery when she arrived home to find flowers delivered to her home address, from a man who thought they had been in a relationship for a decade.
After going to the police, she was shocked to find out that someone had been claiming to be her while faking a relationship on social media and via text messages.
Paul is also calling for tougher control over the use of social media after launching a Liam Gallagher fan page on Facebook during lockdown.
He says the site was was meant to keep users entertained but he and his family have been subjected to vile messages from trolls.
“It was meant to be something positive for Liam fans,” he told us.
“You have Oasis lovers on there and haters and then the abuse starts and I draw the line when it comes to my family.”
Tinder, which has been downloaded more than 340 million times and is available in 190 countries and more than 40 languages, recently launched photo verification, which means members can verify they are who they say they are.
This new feature uses cutting edge technology to self-authenticate through a series of real-time posed selfies, which are compared to existing profile photos using AI technology. Verified profiles will display a blue checkmark so members can trust their authenticity.
Elie Seidman, Tinder CEO says: ‘Every day, millions of our members trust us to introduce them to new people, and we’re dedicated to building innovative safety features powered by best-in-class technology that meet the needs of today’s daters.”
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Tinder also has safety tips and guidelines for its users.
It says: “Meeting new people is exciting, but you should always be cautious when interacting with someone you don’t know. Use your best judgment and put your safety first, whether you are exchanging initial messages or meeting in person.”
It urges people to never send money or share financial information, keep conversations on the Tinder platform while you’re getting to know someone, report all suspicious and offensive behaviour and block and report anyone that violates their terms.
Examples of ‘violations’, the company says, are requests for money or donations, underage users, harassment, threats, and offensive messages, inappropriate or harmful behaviour during or after meeting in person, fraudulent profiles and spam.
They urge users to take their time and get to know the other person before agreeing to meet or chat off Tinder. They advise that meetings should be in a public place, that users should tell friends and family about their plans and leave if they feel uncomfortable.