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Dr. Phil

Dr. Phil Is Thriving Thanks to Catfishing & Romance Scams

Gettyimages | Nicholas Hunt
By A. Elise

In 2002, Dr. Phil was a show that launched thanks to the help of Oprah Winfrey. Today, Dr. Phil has made a name for himself based on his no-nonsense approach to advice, especially regarding family relationships. If anything is clear from watching the show, it's that times have changed.

When the show began, Dr. Phil wasn't focused on the Internet, but many of the stories he shares today are heavily influenced by Internet culture, including catfishing and romance scams. In fact, these are among Phil McGraw's most popular episodes.

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Dr. Phil
Gettyimages | Slaven Vlasic

Dr. Phil's catfishing stories have been among his most reliable episodes for achieving high daytime ratings. On these episodes, a guest arrives with a story about the person they love, who just happens to be stranded in another country and in need of money.

On these episodes, anybody watching at home can see that the show's guests are being fooled, but the guests themselves believe they are in love. They are desperate for the people they are talking to be real. In many cases, they have already sent them tens of thousands of dollars in cash.


One reason why people love these catfish and romance scam episodes? Dr. Phil approaches each one with a sense of compassion. He does not come in, guns blazing, telling his guests that the person they are talking to is not real. Instead, he shows them the evidence and allows the information to unfold in front of them. He shows them text messages that have been copied and pasted from romance scam websites, he finds the people who are being used in the catfishing photos, and he introduces the guests to other victims of the scams.

Dr. Phil and Oprah Winfrey
Gettyimages | Mathew Imaging

In many cases, the victim of catfishing totally refuses to believe that they are the victim. They look at the evidence and believe everything is just a coincidence. These are sad stories, because they often indicated that the individual will continue to be a victim. They may lose all their money along the way, and some have even taken money from their families to send money to romance scammers in countries like Nigeria. Many people tune in hoping Dr. Phil will be able to convince his guests to see the light.

Dr. Phil
Gettyimages | Kevin Winter

With romance scams being so common and people believing they could never be the victim of a catfishing scheme, it seems as if Dr. Phil will never run out of material for these shows. While this is unfortunate, many fans of the show hope that people will become more aware of the scams by watching these episodes.

It also seems as if Dr. Phil is embracing the fact that many audiences view his show for the entertainment factor. He has even posted memes featuring himself to Instagram.

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