Online dating is both popular and unpredictable. Take the story of Manti Te'o, a talented football player for The University of Notre Dame, who was recently the victim of an online hoax. It could happen to anyone. A lonely guy browses the internet and comes across a picture of a beautiful girl. The two begin chatting and the interaction eventually moves to the telephone. In the case of Manti Te'o, it appears the beautiful girl enlisted her "friends and family" to help entice the target and get him 'hooked'. Once the hook is in, the hoax can begin.
So why do people go to elaborate lengths to play these types of cruel jokes? Many internet hoax are done for fun but some are done for profit. How can you protect yourself from a similar situation? Here are a few rules to follow:
1) Reverse Image Search - A good tool to use for discovering if the photos used by your new love interest are located anywhere else on the internet. Fake photos are a huge red flag and should be taken seriously if discovered. I recommend TinEye
2) Reverse Phone Lookup - A good tool to be used for tracing the phone numbers used by your new admirer. There is a basic version and a paid version for more in depth information in the form of a report. I recommend Intelius
3) Meeting Offline - This is probably one of the best ways to discover the truth about who you have met online. Arrange a meeting in a public place and I would suggest meeting during the daytime. To make the meeting less awkward, you can both bring a friend if necessary.
The main goal of online dating should be to take the encounter offline. There are a few new dating sites that focus on this new way of dating. I would highly recommend HowAboutWe or SuperDatesNow for a more personal face-to-face offline dating experience.
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