Many of my friends and acquaintances are on social networking sites or dating websites to look for that special person online. There are millions of genuine people just like them who are in search for their second half. I’ve come up with 5 methods you can use to attempt to ensure that the person you are chatting with truly is the person they say they are:
1 – They have a Facebook account
Most people have Facebook accounts, and let’s face it – if you’re on any social networking or dating website looking for new friends or your other half then you should have nothing against being on Facebook. Facebook connects people with family, relatives and friends. So if your online date has a Facebook account, you should be able to see people with similar names linking to them, their family and friends chatting with them on their walls, etc. It also gives you an idea of how genuine the person is because if they can talk to you privately, surely they’ll be able to talk to you in public with everyone they know prying in their business. Do not send your private pictures via email. If they want to see your pictures, tell them to add you on Facebook.
Warning: If they have only a handful of friends and most of them are of the opposite gender, and none of their friends seem to be family members (i.e. with the same surname) then you might want to be careful.
2 – Talk to them by phone.
A phone number is not a guarantee that the person is located where they say they are. Today, anyone can get their hands on any kind of phone number. Skype for example, gives out phone numbers so you can pretend to be in places such as the US, UK, Hong Kong, etc. even if you are located somewhere else. The person receiving the call will see your overseas phone number and you can pretend that you are actually in these other countries. There are also many scam groups especially from Africa that are located overseas. They do this as a full time or part time job. So their phone number will show that they are located in these countries, and their free email accounts; if they created it in these countries will show that they were created in that country by default (e.g. if they are in the Philippines and created an Yahoo email account there it might end with an @yahoo.com.ph or if it was created in the UK, it might be @yahoo.co.uk.
So make sure you talk to them by phone. If you’re good with accents or if you have a friend who is good at identifying accents then you might be able to know if the person is from where they say they’re from. For example, if the person claims to be born and raised in Manchester in the Uk. A typical person from that place may have a UK accent but there is also an accent specific to the people in that area. So if you’re good with accents, this might get you somewhere with this sort of thing.
Warning: If you have the slightest bit of doubt, get a second opinion. The person doesn’t care how you sound so you can get a friend to do the talking or listening. If your friend thinks this might be a scam, call the whole thing off.
3 – They have childhood photos.
Let’s face it, we all have childhood photos. Lots of innocent people have their photos stolen by scammers. So most scammers have a group of photos from their current or previous victims. Ask for your online date’s childhood photos or weird photos while you are chatting with them live. This doesn’t necesarily mean that if a person has some readily available to you that they are genuine, but it helps.
Warning: Sometimes the person is sending you pictures that they have obtained from someone else or that they have stolen online, on other dating sites or social networking sites. Do a Google Image Search just in case.
4 – Video chat with their family or friends (with webcam)
If you’ve been exchanging emails or regularly chatting with that special someone, then I’m sure they have told someone close to them about you (well, that is if you actually mean something to them). If that’s the case, they are at this point where they would like to get a second opinion of you. Remember: if the person on the other side of the computer is genuine, they they are also equally curious to know whether you’re for real or not. So they should have no problem passing the phone to their buddy so you can talk to the other person. If you’re able to, listen in on the accent or tone. If you can do a video chat with them and their friends/family then this is probably as good as it gets.
Warning: Again, this will not guarantee that the person is genuine, but at least if they’ve got a story, e.g. they live with their daughter or siblings, etc. then this method might help prove that.
5 – Trace their email header
Many people have Gmail accounts as their primary email address. Many scammers will not use gmail because gmail provides the original email header that allows the email to be traced. Gmail also requires phone number verification. Although this method is not 100% efficient in keeping scammers out, it helps just that much.
Warning: Some email headers are not traceable. This doens’t mean that it’s proof that they are not a scammer. In fact, a typical person will not even care about hiding their location, so if they are not traceable then perhaps there is something to worry about.
If you know other methods please feel free to share them on the comment box below. Let’s make the online world a better place.