Hi hockey twitter. You’ve been catfished.
Sophie Merckx, or @themerckxist, claims to be a congolese expat whose parents are dead, raised by her grandparents in belgium and played ice hockey goalie for France internationally. Also claimed to move to Waterloo and play hockey there, then “went to Stanford” and taught classes, and went to UCL in london after that.
There is no proof online that she did any of these things. If you google “sophie merckx” plus any of these things (stanford, UCL, france goaltender, etc) nothing legitimate comes up.
Here is an imgur album laying out the evidence that she is not real. It includes: the fact that she’s been using instagram photos from a girl who lives in london named Sophie Kipner. (Check it out. it’s creepy. Here’s an example. The first is from Merckx’s twitter, the second is from Kipner’s instagram:)
A lot of the goalie photos that Merckx uses are of a French goalie named Mathilde Bopp. Some of the more recent ones are of a goalie from the French International team that played in 2013. (all of the markings on their pads line up perfectly with those in the roster photo from 2013 - just unsure what that goalie’s name is as of now.)
Liezl van Zyl, or @timid_observer claims to be a Namibian swimmer who sometimes lives in South Africa and travels all over for international swimming competitions. Details about Van Zyl, like Merckx, can’t be found online anywhere. There are no swimming records, which is odd since…well, usually you can find those pretty easily.
Oh and also she’s stealing all her photos from Sydney Wheeler’s instagram account. Sydney Wheeler, like the Survivor player? Yeah.
This doesn’t end here though. “Sara Naslund,” or @aSmartassSwede, steals all her photos from Swedish curler Sara Carlsson’s twitter. as well as Carlsson’s curling team’s twitter feed. @thatgirlstimpy’s photos are all from someone actually named Stephanie Valencia. @zeegermanginger’s photos (example) are all photos of a german curler named Stella Heiß. @the33centstore, or “Tommi Norskov,” is another - claims to have played for Denmark’s world juniors team in 2008, but he is listed on exactly zero rosters anywhere - just on wikipedia, and he was edited in there by someone from Waterloo, ONT. There are a few weird connections to Waterloo here that aren’t 100% clear.
"Tommi" is actually a possible connection to Waterloo. A source has met @jomsie in this tweet, and confirmed he’s real. But…
The guy in the red shirt is “Tommi,” aka Tommy or @tatertotzz, an irish expat. Are you Irish or are you Danish, Tommi/y?
There are a number of other twitter accounts that were likely created to prop up Merckx. She’s convinced a lot of people to follow them (myself included), and sometimes used pretty shady convincing tactics.
This would all be entertaining if they weren’t completely disgusting people.
Merckx’s account, who Steve already had on Facebook, convinced him to add Liezl van Zyl because she has done extensive work with autistic kids and autism charities. “Merckx” did this knowing Steve’s sister has autism, thus making him more open to the idea.
Van Zyl also spoke extensively to other people about mental health issues, appearing sympathetic when people outwardly seemed to be struggling with mental health. She’d then pour out a sob story about being beaten as a child for not excelling in sports. (As gross as it sounds, since this is the hockey blogosphere being catfished, maybe that’s why the sports aspect was thrown in?) Regardless, peoples’ personal secrets are now in the hands of some unknown figure that poured out lies to suck these people in.
Let’s also not forget about how frequently Merckx pulled the “MY PARENTS ARE DEAD, MY PROBLEMS ARE WORSE THAN YOURS” card to make people feel bad about expressing their problems. He/she/it, whoever is behind this account, is a bully and a liar.
This will be updated as more evidence arises.
ETA: ALL THE FAKE ACCOUNTS HAVE BEEN DELETED FROM FACEBOOK AND TWITTER. Still digging to see who’s behind this.