Don't text strangers kids ... especially strangers claiming they're Clay Aiken ... because chances are, you're being catfished and it could ruin your life.
TMZ broke the story ... Barbara Saylor was arrested for entering Clay's North Carolina home with binoculars. She was charged with trespassing and stalking.
Barbara's attorney Ken Steinberg now tells TMZ, the 58-year-old is actually the victim ... of an elaborate catfishing scam.
We're told Barbara met Clay years ago after his "American Idol" stint -- they even exchanged contact information ... somehow, Barbara got the wrong phone number and began texting a stranger.
Barbara's lawyer says the catfisher played Barbara like a fiddle -- carrying on a non-romantic, Manti Te'o-type text relationship with her for YEARS ... leading her to believe he was actually Clay Aiken.
The scam culminated with the catfisher goading Barbara to visit Clay at his house in North Carolina ... which she did ... and that's when she got arrested.
Barbara's attorney turned over all text records to the court to prove she was a victim, not a perp. The case was dismissed and late last week paperwork was filed to expunge the arrest from her record.
Sadly, she lost her job over the whole thing.
'Catfish' Star Sunny Cross
Cops DWI Plea
Next Time I'll Wear Flats
1/9/2014 10:30 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
"Catfish" star Sunny Cross -- who starred on the first episode of the show -- has just copped a plea in her drunk driving case ... and she'll stay a free woman.
Cross was popped in Arkansas in January, 2013 after driving on the wrong side of the road. We told she flunked her field sobriety test, blaming it on her Christian Louboutins ... they're a bitch to walk in.
Ultimately Sunny blew a .08 which made her just drunk enough for prosecution.
Sunny plead guilty to 1 count of DWI and was ordered to complete a substance abuse program within 90 days.
Fun Fact -- Sunny's claim to fame on "Catfish" -- her Internet boyfriend turned out to be a girl.
'Criminal Minds' Star
I Didn't Cheat on My Wife
... We're Separated
8/20/2013 12:50 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
"Criminal Minds" star Thomas Gibson wasn't pulling a fast one on his wife by conducting an online relationship with a shameless catfisher -- sources tell TMZ, the actor and his wife have been separated for years.
Sources close to the couple tell us, Gibson and his estranged wife Christine Gibson still live together for the sake of their children, but they've been separated for 2-and-a-half years ... six months before Thomas started messing around with one of his Twitter fans.
As we reported, Gibson and the woman -- who catfished him by posing as a porn star -- carried on a heated relationship for two years before Gibson discovered the entire thing was a sham ... he even sent her a sexy hot tub video (it's hilarious).
Bottom line: Gibson might be a sucker ... but he's no cheater.
'Catfish' Star Sunny Cross
1/27/2013 12:23 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
UPDATE: Sunny tells TMZ she plans to fight the charges because she only blew a .08 ... the legal limit, by the way. As for her failed field sobriety test -- Sunny says she was wearing Christian Louboutins and "nobody could walk a straight line in those shoes."
Sunny Cross, who was on the very first episode of the MTV show "Catfish," was arrested this morning for suspicion of driving while intoxicated ... TMZ has learned.
Cross was popped at 8:20 AM in Fayetteville, AR. According to the website for the Washington County Sheriff's Office, Cross was popped for driving too close to another vehicle, driving on the wrong side of the road, and lastly ... DWI.
Cross posted $1,055 bond and was released at 9:39 AM. Oddly enough ... at 8:39 AM she tweeted, "Last night was hilarious."
We called Cross for comment and got her voicemail. A few minutes after we called, she tweeted, "Well I guess it's safe to say last night was an epic fail."
Cross appeared on the very first episode of "Catfish" -- where she was "introduced" to her Internet boyfriend, who turned out to be a girl named Chelsea.