Catfish's Max Joseph Says Cyberstalker Falsely Claimed to Be Holding His Wife Hostage
Catfish host Max Joseph has spent years helping people navigate the murky waters of the Internet, but he says the fame he earned from his MTV show has come with consequences.
Joseph wrote about the “unique anxieties” that even “minor fame” like his can have in an essay on celebrity for Vulture on Wednesday. Now he tells PEOPLE that was just the start of the story.
“I was actually cyberstalked twice,” he reveals to PEOPLE.
In his essay for Vulture, Joseph shared, “A year ago I actually got cyberstalked by someone who called me from my wife’s number and told me he was holding her hostage at my house (using my exact address).”
He did clarify, “It was a hoax, of course.”
Before that, Joseph tells PEOPLE: “The first time was more of a cyberspam attack where someone texted me the same menacing message over and over again from an ever-changing phone number.”
The attack, he says, was relentless: – “I couldn’t block the number (because it kept on changing) and received one text message every two seconds for about three days straight. That was annoying. It ended, and I was in prep on my movie so I didn’t have the time to report it or do anything about it.”
Of the second incident he detailed in his essay, Joseph says, “That was a little more sinister.”
“I had just returned from Brazil, where I was on vacation with my wife’s family for the holidays, and received the call within seconds of entering my apartment,” he continues.
“What made it all the more concerning was that my neighbor told me he had seen someone trying to break into my car a couple days prior, and the description of the would-perpetrator (a white hipster around my age with a skateboard) somewhat matched the voice on the phone telling me he had kidnapped my wife,” he recalls, adding that he did take action this time: “I reported both incidents to the police but nothing ever came of it.”
Not only have the unsettling, unexpected effects of his high profile made his personal life more complicated, Joseph wrote on Vulture that the fame he’s found as a professional cyber-investigator has now made him unsure of how to carry himself online.
“I worry about revealing too much of my life on my Instagram posts,” he admitted. “I often wonder if I should adopt a cause to call my own or start tweeting inspirational messages. And when tragedy strikes and the world takes to social media, is it now my responsibility to respond with #RIPs and #prayfors?”
He concluded that though he hasn’t figured it all out yet, there’s always hope: “Maybe next season?”
Catfish airs Wednesdays (10 p.m. ET) on MTV.