On this season’s newest episode of 90 Day Fiance: Before The 90 Days, viewers finally got to “meet” Ben Rathbun.
He’s a divorced dad. He’s a fitness model. He insists that he’s not in a midlife crisis. He’s a cult survivor.
Ben’s girlfriend is a 24-year-old girl named Mahogany who lives in Panama, never video chats, and edits her photos beyond recognition.
Cyber-sleuth superfans think that they tracked down the “real” Mahogany, but things just get weirder from there.
When Ben Rathbun introduced himself, it was only on the sixth episode of the season.
Viewers got their first glimpse of him as he showed off his incredibly fit body.
It was his fitness modeling that led him to “meet” Mahogany, but he had a long journey before that.
Ben grew up in a toxic, repressive cult.
Despite marrying (very young) and becoming a pastor in that cult, he and his wife eventually escaped.
They divorced, but at least they and their children got out. His ex-wife, Ben says, holds bitterness about that divorce.
Ben is 52 years old, rides a motorcycle, and believes that he is in an online relationship with a 24-year-old.
Despite that, he insists that he is not having a midlife crisis.
But as he explains Mahogany, it’s clear that there is much more going on than a man trying to make up for lost time.
Ben apparently met Mahogany on social media after he began posting modeling photos.
According to him, dating has been difficult because most women do not want to pursue a relationship with him after learning that he won’t have sex until marriage.
Mahogany, he assures everyone, is different, and shares his devout Christian faith and desire to remain chaste.
Ben met with some friends on camera to tell them about his relationship.
His friends are clearly pretty leery of his mysterious online girlfriend whom he’s never met.
His friend Jessica has a particularly enjoyable reaction when hearing that Mahogany only recently turned 24.
Ben has never video chatted with Mahogany due to alleged “shyness.”
(That’s fine for many online people … but not if you’re making concrete plans to meet up)
As evidence that she is “real,” Ben shows a short and heavily filtered video of Mahogany.
Absolutely none of this is adding up to sound like a real person.
Heavily filtered photos, no video chatting, one short and filtered video, and a huge age gap?
Ben has been catfished before — by a Nigerian man — and his friends know that he is desperate for companionship.
They ask the most obvious question: has this alleged girl asked for money?
Ben blushes and laughs, which is never a good sign, admitting that she has.
He tries to say that since the $1,000 is a “loan,” it’s different, but his friends shut down that attempt.
Here’s the thing: 90 Day Fiance has shown real catfishes before, but also fake catfishes.
After all, whatever Lana was really up to with David Murphey, she was a real human being … they just waited to show her.
Editing is a powerful tool, and can make smart people appear foolish — making fools out of viewers in the process.
A Reddit post reported to have found someone who appears to be Mahogany.
At the very least, this tells us that there are photos of this girl outside of Ben’s DMs.
It doesn’t tell us whether or not she’s real. And it also makes it appear that she is lying to Ben pretty blatantly.
On Facebook, there is an account under the name Mahogany Roca.
It’s social media, so the entire thing could be a dummy account created to find dupes like Ben in the first place.
The filtered-beyond-recognition photos are certainly consistent with the borderline-inhuman photos that we’ve seen of Mahogany so far.
Mahogany appears to have since deleted several comments, including one in which she told a commenter that she is 22 years old.
Ben’s story would have been filmed last year, so that would make her 21 or 22 at the time, not freshly 24 like Ben believes.
Mahogany also lists herself as “single” on social media. So … what should we believe about all of this?
Anyone could take a series of photos of themselves, of a friend, of a model, doctor them heavily, and create fake social media profiles.
These profiles could then be used to generate the illusion of a real person, to lure gullible people into giving them attention, money, and more.
We have no idea if Ben ever meets Mahogany or if she really exists, but now we can at least see the dubious accounts that she used to speak with him.