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Online Dating: Are They Really Who They Seem?

Online dating investigations, are they necessary? When do I need to get one? What are internet dating scams? How can I tell if I'm talking to a scammer? 

These are very common questions we get asked. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, if you have suspicions that who you're talking to might not be who you they say they are, you could be right. There are different ways people lie and different reasons why people lie on online dating sites. Sometimes, it's simply a few white lies told out of lack of confidence. Other times, though, the reasons are nefarious and can land you in deep trouble. We'll take a look at what you can look for and how you can protect yourself in the online dating world. 

 

 

Internet Dating Scams

How do internet dating scammers operate?

Internet dating scams are when scammers use dating websites, email, or social media to take advantage of those looking for romance online. Scammers can create online profiles with pictures, names and information catered to the type of victim they hope to attract. Then, through passionate messages, heartfelt conversations, and even gifts, they attract unsuspecting people. After they gain their victim's trust, they'll attempt theft of money or identity. It sounds silly, but they might even do this for amusement.

There are some basic, common internet dating scams. The most common scam is when the scammer, after gaining the trust of their victim, requests money for seemingly valid reasons, like money to travel to meet their victim or a recent lay-off. A variation of this is when scammers ask for gift cards (often times, ITunes or Amazon). After the money or gifts have been sent, they cut contact. 

Another scam that is less common but recently on the rise is the use of Blackmail online. This is when a scammer grows so close to their victims that intimate photos and/or conversations take place. Scammers then either threaten to publish this private information or they actually do and will only remove it when given a large fee. Even after receiving this fee, there is no guarantee the content will be removed. 

The least nefarious yet still painful scam is the Catfish. This is when someone uses fake information or photographs to appeal to their victims. These scammers use this fictitious information to lure people in, often times, for no other reason than to have a relationship. It's all fun and games, though, until the victim is ghosted or broken up with when the scammer can no longer keep up the facade.

Signs of a Scammer 

We usually get phone calls from victims when enough time has passed that they're starting to get suspicious. A lot of people aren't as lucky and never catch any of the signs until it is too late. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself from online scamming. 

  • Notice an abundance of spelling and grammar errors (a lot of scammers aren't native English speakers)
  • Go slowly and don't reveal too much about yourself right away
  • Ask them to meet up in person 
  • Reverse google search any photos that seem inconsistent with their profile
  • Don't send money or objects
  • Notice early and excessive declarations of love- including calling you "honey" or "baby" right away

When you should hire a private investigator?

An internet dating investigation is when a private investigator is used to reveal an online romantic partner’s true identity and motives. There are several different tactics an investigator will use to determine if the person you are talking to is indeed who they say they are. If you have any questions or suspicions at all, your best bet is to hire a professional. Not only will they give you peace of mind about your situation, but any evidence they gather can also be used in court if a theft has already occurred. 

Internet dating scams are a form of fraud that can result in identity theft, crime, and significant loss of money. Hiring a professional with an unbiased opinion who is also familiar with these types of scams is vital to not only your safety, but also prevents them from scamming future victims. Private investigators have experience recognizing and handling online dating scams. They also have the ability to collect evidence that will hold up in court so these internet predators can be stopped in their tracks.