A SINGER who is the nephew of comedian Sir Ken Dodd has spoken of his distress and concern after his identity was stolen to deceive women on dating sites into accepting dates and starting relationships.
Andy Otley, from Kinmel Bay, who appeared on BBC talent show The Voice in 2014 and has performed at weddings and corporate events across the UK and Europe, was contacted by a young girl on Twitter last month.
The girl, who seemed to know who Andy was, alerted the vocalist to the fact that someone was using his identity on a number of dating apps, including Tinder.
The 24-year-old, who has been a professional singer for the past six years, claims the girl said the person using his identity had used the name ‘Mike’ and that his profile detailed that he went to Leeds Beckett University, worked for an electrical company and as a part-time singer. He was also told that he had been “very flirty” towards her.
Andy, who has lived in Prestatyn and Abergele from the age of three and attended Emrys ap Iwan in Abergele and St David’s College in Llandudno said: “The girl gave me his telephone number, which he had given her on Tinder. I called it straight away, but it rang out.
“In an attempt to find out more information about the catfish (deceiving online by using a fake identity), a female friend of mine contacted them through WhatsApp.
“What followed was a bizarre conversation in which the catfish continued the conversation in a creepy perverted manor whilst deceitfully using my identity as his own persona.
“At the end of the disturbing conversation, my friend let them know we knew exactly what they were doing and that they did not have permission to use my identity.”
Andy notified the police. He said he was passed from pillar to post but he was finally able to leave his report with the Action Fraud service and was given a crime reference number. He has not yet received a response.
He is hoping he can raise awareness of the ‘catfishing’ by speaking about his ordeal.
“I find the whole issue very disturbing and of great concern,” he added.
“I want to highlight the way these dangerous individuals can infiltrate the lives of venerable people online, who have no idea who they’re actually talking to.
“In my profession as a singer-songwriter, I perform to large audiences of all ages. I would hate to see any of them victimised in this way.
“To have my personal and professional identity stolen by a catfish was, at first, just surprising. I wondered why they would use me.
”On reflection, I realise how dangerous this situation could be to members of the public and the potential damage to my personal and professional reputation and that of my family.”
As well as Sir Ken Dodd being Andy’s uncle, he has also acted as the singers mentor. Andy often performs alongside the legendary entertainer.
Andy added: “My only knowledge of catfishing is the MTV show and of course, you never think it will happen to you.
“Although, I find their behaviour pathetic, we must be aware that there are dangerous people out there hiding behind genuine peoples identities with the sole aim of duping and hurting vulnerable people, particularly young girls.”