I see reviews on this site where posters say the show is "fake" without providing any proof. I see reviews where posters say you must be stupid if you are the victim of one of these scams.
The fact remains that people do sometimes invest their emotions in exclusively online relationships.
Online technology is so new and it brings new dimensions in relating to others. One of the most important aspects of online communication is the factor of anonymity. We have all seen the trolls that visit this site and others. We have witnessed the anti-social behavior of some gamers who use their anonymity to escape responsibility for their actions. It should be no surprise that bad behavior can manifest whenever anonymity is part of the formula.
"Catfish" has shown--unsurprisingly--that the victims are usually people who are emotionally needy, sometimes desperate. The world (real and virtual) is full of people who have trouble fitting in, who are dealing with emotional issues, who have a personal history that makes them vulnerable. They reach out. And sometimes they find an unscrupulous person.
"Catfish" has also shown that the perpetrators are also damaged people. The first episode of the second season was a prime example. The catfish was someone who had been bullied. She was striking out as a way to make herself feel better.
The human psychology is interesting. These cases serve as warnings for those who might become victims. And the show reminds us that behind all of those anonymous names and avatars exist real people. Every one of them has his own problems. Nev and Max, who are the on-camera hosts, do their best to inject humanity into the proceedings. Their objective is not to ridicule or belittle, unlike some other shows. They attempt to connect with and understand every victim and every catfish.
Surprisingly, the cases they get involved with are very diverse. The catfish might be a lonely person or a scammer. It might be an older lady or a person of an unexpected gender. I don't know how long they can mine this phenomenon, but so far it is entertaining and useful.