Don't Be the Next Manti Te'o. Run a Fast Background Check.
Manti Te'o isn't the only victim of online dating scams. And while his heart may be broken, and his pride severely wounded, other victims of online dating scams have suffered serious monetary losses as well as a broken heart. Take Debbie Best, for example. She found herself to be an online dating scam victim of profiled scammer, "Harry McDaniel Ashwood". In her case, her fake online boyfriend, fictitiously named "John Scofield", wooed her over a period of several weeks in a seduction that involved chatting, emailing, and even phone calls. Then he tried to get her to send him money. A fast background check, before she said, "I love you," could have saved her a great deal of pain, anguish, and heart ache.
In fact, on some sites as many as 10 percent (that's 1 in 10!) personas in the online dating arena are fake and fabricated with the specific intention of scamming innocent victims. That statistic is according to Mark Brooks, editor of Online Personals Watch. Even non-scam online dates can still pan out miserably. When all you have to go on is a written profile, a picture which can easily be someone else's, and some chats, emails, and phone calls, there is no way to know if the person you are dealing with is honest, let alone real.
Run a Fast Background Check on Potential Online Dates to Verify They're Real
Here are some tips for how to run a complete background check on your prospective online dates.
- Fact Check their Details. Most conversations will run around work, families, children, activities etc. You can use online search engines to verify that a business even exists, let alone whether or not the individual works there. Take the time to verify they are providing accurate information in as many areas as possible.
- Skype or scoot. One interesting caveat in the Manti Te'o case was his girlfriend's reluctance to have a Skype chat. In his case, it was probably easy to let this slide as they were both college students with work, school, and a major athletic career between the two of them. However, he should have forced her hand. If your online date refuses to Skype, video chat, or meet in person (if you are local) it's time to move on to Profile Number 2 because something isn't quite right.
- Hire a private investigator. You can hire a private investigator to run a quick background check on your prospective online match to find out significantly more about them. With a few details we can search public and private data bases that will provide you with a wealth of information. Even if your online date isn't a scammer, you may find out less than desirable facts, which will help you to back out before your heart becomes too involved.
Protect yourself from online dating scams
There are other things you can do to help protect yourself from becoming a victim of online dating scams. The FBI has provided this list on how to recognize online dating scams. Be wary if your online date:
- Pressures you to leave the online dating site to use other social media outlets for chatting and communicating.
- Claims to have deeply passionate and/or affectionate feelings in an unusually short period of time.
- Sends pictures of him/herself which seem too good to be true, or from a magazine
- Says s/he is from the U.S. but often travels internationally "for business" or spends large amounts of time overseas
- Asks you for money. Ever. Even if it's not a scam, you should hightail it out of the chat box (those are our words, not the FBI's).
- Try to stick to nationally recognized and reputable online dating websites and use their forums for your communication with your date.
If you are suspicious of someone you are dating online, it may be time to press for further information. If s/he is a valid, ethical, and kind human being, s/he will understand your fears and concerns and will be happy to prove to you that s/he is real and has only honest intentions. If you feel you are the victim of an online dating scam, you should call your local police department and/or file a complaint on the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Page.
For more information about how you can run a complete background check or have a surveillance done on someone contact Mike Garroutte at Linked Investigations. Mr. Garroutte has been a licensed Orange County private investigator since 1982 and can provide you with a fast and affordable background check and any information relative to private investigations.