She’s real! 90 Day Fiancé star Mahogany Roca became the subject of a catfish story line with her long-distance boyfriend, Ben Rathbun, on season 5 of the TLC spinoff, 90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days. Mahogany finally made her debut on the Sunday, February 20 episode.
After keeping Ben waiting at a restaurant in her hometown of San Bartolo, Peru, for over an hour, she finally made her grand entrance and greeted him with a hug. Following their dinner date, they had an awkward moment as Ben hugged Mahogany and told her he loved her, but she didn’t respond.
“I definitely still see her as my future wife but we are definitely on two different levels right now,” Ben said in his confessional. “I still have my heart out there, I love her, I want to express that to her but she is not reciprocating. And she’s just not the same way that she was online, she’s not saying ‘I love you’ back and that is very concerning.”
Prior to the speculation that she was not a real person or catfishing Ben, the Peru native took to her Instagram page to set the record straight once and for all.
“So I know that a lot of people are saying that I’m fake,” Mahogany said in a since-expired selfie video shared via her Instagram Story on February 4. “But, um, I’m not.”
The Peruvian beauty wore her blonde hair pulled back in a bun and wore a spaghetti-strap top in the clip. She captioned her post, “Tenia que decir,” which translates to “I had to say” in English.
On the January 30 episode of 90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days, many fans were heartbroken for Ben after his long-distance love did not show up at the airport in Lima to greet him when he landed in her native country of Peru — which added to fuel to the rumors that Mahogany was not a real person.
“I just landed in Peru and I was supposed to meet my girlfriend Mahogany for the first time, but I came to our meeting spot and she isn’t here and my heart is just like, dropping to my gut and I’m feeling absolutely numb and incredibly sad,” Ben said in his confessional. After waiting more than 20 minutes for Mahogany, Ben decided to give up and take a taxi to his hotel room alone.
Despite his heartbreak, Ben said he only felt there was a “three percent chance” that Mahogany isn’t real. He decided he would take the night to rest and try to contact her again in the morning. After no response, Ben decided to travel to her home town of San Bartolo to try to find her.
Fans were introduced to the new couple on the January 16 episode of the 90 Day Fiancé spinoff. Ben is a 52-year-old divorced father of four from Fraser, Michigan, who works as a fitness model. He met Mahogany, a 24-year-old from South America 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. But the red flags in their romance were spotted almost immediately when several people in Ben’s life speculated that Mahogany was not a real person.
He revealed his relationship with Mahogany to his friends during a scene in the 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.”
90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days airs on TLC Sundays at 8 p.m. ET.
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