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Thanks to a cottage industry of websites offering fake Internet girlfriends - a concept recently popularized by Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's girlfriend hoax - anyone can date the imaginary woman of their dreams.
The idea is sort of like self-catfishing - creating a phony girlfriend not to scam people out of money but for the benign purpose of making your current girlfriend insane with jealousy, or to get nagging parents off your back. The term "catfishing," or creating fake Internet identities, comes from the 2010 documentary "Catfish," where filmmaker Nev Schulman chronicles his Internet romance gone awry.
BBC technology reporter Dave Lee recently shared his quest for fake Internet love, mentioning Cloud Girlfriend, a fake girlfriend service that ended when the service was hit by more than 85,000 requests and shut down by Facebook's lawyers.
For those with a little money to burn on their imaginary paramour (at least until Facebook continues its crackdown), Fakeinternetgirlfriend.com is an option. For $250 a month, the service will generate social media profiles and create a back story for your long-distance love. She'll text you up to ten times a month and leave two telephone messages. Like other fake girlfriend services, you are guaranteed discretion and there is a disclaimer that you never meet your phantom babe in the flesh, no matter how much you may want to.
For Spanish speakers, Namaro Fake is a Brazilian-based service that offers fake girlfriends -- but so far it doesn't have an English-language service.
For low-budget fake girlfriend seekers, there is Girlfriendhire.com, where for $5 a pop over Paypal, a fake girlfriend will send a text or some other small gesture of affection. A similar service is Fiverr, mentioned in the BBC report, in which users also pay $5 for other users to write cards or send texts posing as fake girlfriends.