You’ve probably heard of the term "catfish." It refers to a scammer who pretends to be someone else on the internet. It can happen anywhere from social media to dating sites. One local man knows all too well how anyone can become an unsuspecting victim.
Scott Humpal is a well-known name here in Corpus Christi. He owns several physical therapy centers. In addition, his family has also been in the public eye for both tragedy and triumph. Now, Humpal’s prominence has taken a bizarre turn.
"Probably about 7 years ago, I first started getting messages," Humpal says.
He says it’s been at least that long since scammers have been using his photos and using them to bilk money out of vulnerable victims.
Speaking of one of his experiences, Humpal tells KRIS 6 News, "One lady a couple of years ago contacted me. I think she was from the Atlanta area and she claimed that she got scammed out of like $60,000."
Humpal says these contacts are not limited to the United States. He gets them from women all over the world. During our interview with Humpal, he showed us a message from a woman from Scotland.
Her message, like many others, describe how she’s communicating with a man claiming to be him. Some use his real name and pictures, while other scammers go further and use difficult parts of Humpal’s life story.
Back in 2012, the Humpal family was in a plane crash in Colorado. Scott’s wife, Gaby, passed away. Less than a year later, their son, Tad, died.
"At first, it was very emotional. it reminds me of those tragedies," Humpal says, fighting back tears.
Even with his own loss, Humpal is also sympathetic to the other victims.
"Some of the older women that have had tragedies themselves, especially lost a husband, they’re very vulnerable to this scam."
Humpal says he does what he can to help. He regularly checks his Messenger inbox and responds to the women who say they were duped. However, in the end, he believes it’s a tough life lesson for them.
"You have to learn that you don’t send money and don’t get into a lot of chatting with someone you’ve never met," he says.
When it comes to his life, Humpal says he’s accepted that this is his new normal. He says about the scammers, "Since it’s been successful for them to use my photos, they’re not going to ever stop."
"It’s just one of those things in life that you cannot control. You can’t fix it and you just have to accept it and just move on."
Humpal tells us he doesn’t personally know of an instance when a scammer using his photos was caught. However, we are following a tip on one of these scams in another state. KRIS 6 News will bring you the update when we receive new information.