In perhaps one of the most high profile controversies in the history of Sister Wives, star Meri Brown was caught in a catfish scandal, which caused a major strain in her marriage to now ex-husband Kody Brown. While the drama happened in season 9 of the long-running series, it continued to cause strain in their relationship until their split was confirmed in December 2022.

Meri revealed during a sneak peek of the Sister Wives: One on One tell-all – which aired on December 18, 2022 – that it was Kody who ultimately pulled the plug on their relationship.

“It just doesn’t make sense to me that he would be so frustrated with Christine [Brown] and be like, ‘She just made this decision,’” Meri said in the teaser, alluding to ex-wife Christine and her decision to leave Kody in November 2021, the first wife to do so. “We didn’t consult, we didn’t talk, she just made the decision, and then he says, ‘No, I don’t consider myself married to Meri.’ Like, he just made the decision. I’ve never heard him say that to me.”

With all the history between her and Kody, there are still questions about what exactly happened between Meri and a man named “Sam Cooper”? Keep reading to find out everything we know about Meri’s catfishing scandal.

When Did ‘Sister Wives’ Star Meri’s Catfishing Scandal Happen?

Meri’s relationship with “Sam,” whom she met on Twitter, kicked off in March 2015. This was not long after the Lizzie’s Heritage Inn owner legally divorced her husband so that he could marry his fourth wife, Robyn Brown, in order to adopt her kids from a previous marriage. Despite legally separated, Meri and Kody remained spiritually married – though viewers noticed distance between the spouses – until December 2022.

Who Catfished Meri Brown?

After six months of online communication, Meri’s romance with “Sam” came to a sudden halt after she discovered that her Internet lover was actually a woman named Jackie Overton.

Jackie, an infamous online scammer, tricked Meri into falling in love with her by pretending to be “Sam,” a business tycoon in his early 40s. After flirting publicly via Twitter, Meri and “Sam” (a.k.a. Jackie) started to chat privately on the phone. Meri even sent “Sam” naughty text messages, which Jackie later leaked, that included images of the TLC personality posing seductively with a banana.

sister wives kody brown can't leave meri amid marriage issues
TLC (2)

Once Meri discovered that “Sam” was Jackie in August 2015, she was understandably devastated. In retaliation to Meri ending their relationship, “Sam” who insisted their romance was the real deal exposed the reality star’s sexts and private voicemails via “his” blog. “Sam” went so far as to write a book titled Almost Meri’ed, which was later made available on Amazon.

Meri, who shares child Leon Brown with Kody, has been very candid about how being catfished impacted her family life, her status within the polygamist family and more.

“This catfish was just planting things in my head and telling me how horrible my family was and specifically how horrible Kody was,” Meri previously said on Sister Wives before she and Kody went their separate ways. “That was one of the reasons why I didn’t want him around. I was just angry. I’m just angry at him. I just pushed Kody away. I did. He’s not the one I should’ve pushed away.”

The Catfishing Scandal Plagued Meri and Kody’s Marriage

Even though the catfishing scandal happened years ago, it still impacted Meri and Kody’s relationship until they finally called it quits. During a season 17 episode, Meri introduced her best friend, Jen, to the camera, a friendship she cultivated when the Brown family lived in Las Vegas. 

“I mean she basically knows everything about my situation with Kody,” she told producers during the November 6, episode. “She was the one person that I could 100% trust during the whole catfishing situation … she really earned my trust during that time.” 

Meanwhile, the patriarch was uneasy about the connection but was glad Meri had a confidante outside the family. 

“She’s very loyal to Meri. I don’t know if she’s giving her good advice or not ‘cause I don’t know,” the father of 18 explained of Meri and Jen’s connection to the cameras. “Meri’s relationship with the family is a strained one. There’s a whole history of struggle.” 

Meri previously acknowledged that her marriage was strained long before the catfishing situation. “A lot of people like to look at that as the defining moment and the fracture in mine and Kody’s relationship, and it wasn’t,” she said during the season 16 reunion, which aired in January 2022.

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