Catfish scandal? 90 Day Fiancé fans were introduced to new couple on season 5 of 90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days, Ben Rathbun and Mahogany Roca. Their romance flagged red flags almost immediately when several people in Ben’s life speculated that Mahogany is not a real person.
Ben is a 52-year-old divorced father of four who works as a fitness model. He met Mahogany, a 24-year-old from San Bartolo, Peru, after he slid into her DMs on social media. The couple had been dating long-distance and talking online for three months at the time of filming, and Ben was ready to meet her in person for the first time.
He revealed his relationship with Mahogany to his friends during a scene in the Sunday, January 17 episode. While Ben admitted he was already thinking about marrying Mahogany, his friends raised several red flags that hinted that she may not be real: they only spoke on the phone twice and have never spoken via video call. When explaining why they have not spoken face to face via their phones, Ben said it was because Mahogany was “very shy” and “just doesn’t like video chatting.”
He then revealed that he asked Mahogany to send him a video to prove that she was real and played it for his friends. In the video, she said in Spanish, “Hi, good evening. It’s Mahogany. Right here, it’s Mahogany.”
“Ben, that’s a little bit sketchy,” one of his friends said. Another friend asked if Mahogany has ever asked him for money, and Ben admitted to sending her a loan of $1,000.
In his confessional, Ben admitted that this isn’t the first time he’s been deceived online. “I really haven’t told anyone I have been catfished before,” he said. “It took me several weeks to figure out the person I was talking to was actually a man that was texting me from Africa. It really hurt me, actually, but I know that’s not the case with Mahogany because we just keep connecting every single day, deeper and deeper and you can’t fake that.”
However, Ben’s own children raised the same concern about Mahogany being a fake online persona. During another scene, he sat down with three of his kids and his ex-wife to tell them about his plans to visit Mahogany in Peru and things got tense when Ben’s 14-year-old daughter, Joy, called out his online girlfriend.
“That is so fake,” Joy said immediately after Ben showed her a photo of Mahogany. “That’s the fakest picture I have ever seen in my whole entire life, that is so fake.”
Ben defended his girlfriend. “It could be filtered,” he said. “Maybe she has really good camera.”
However, it seems like Ben may not get the chance to see if Mahogany looks like her pictures in real life. In a teaser for the Sunday, January 23 episode, he gets a very direct message from his South American love. “Just got a text,” Ben said as he was waiting in an airport to board his flight to Peru. “It’s not very encouraging. She’s not wanting me to come.”
90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days airs on TLC Sundays at 8 p.m. ET.