Online Dating Fraud

My boss’s nephew is getting mar­ried in September. I’ve had the plea­sure of meeting the happy couple, and they are a perfect match for one another. You know the type; they finish each other’s’ sentences, have the same ideals, morals, and interests, and know what the other needs before they do. But they avoid telling people the “real” story of how they met, changing it each time, from saying they met at a coffee shop to while rock climbing (by the way, nei­ther of them rock climbs).

The reality is that they met on Match.com. To her, “Going online was easier. You have to pay to be on there, so you know that everyone on there wants to be in a relationship. I didn’t have the time to waste on peo­ple who weren’t serious.” With over 17 percent of the marriages this year being of couples who met online, this idea is becoming less and less odd.

According to StatisticBrain.com, 40 million people have tried online dating, making the annual revenue of online dating sites over one billion dollars. However, with all of these statistics, there is a stigma around on­line dating. Although online dating can make beautiful relationships, we are gaining knowledge of the horrors of online dating.

We’ve all heard the stories. Meet a gorgeous model online and fall in love. She finally agrees to meet you at your local Starbucks only for you to find she looks more like Honey Boo Boo’s mom. How much time did you invest in this relationship? Messag­ing online, talking on the phone. This happens more than we would like to admit as we see in MTV’s television show, “Catfish.”

According to urbandictionary. com, the term “catfish” is, “someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, par­ticularly to pursue deceptive online romances.”

With the prevalence of the Manti Te’o scandal, the Notre Dame football player who was fooled into falling for “Lennay Kekua” who “died of leuke­mia,” being catfished is a becoming a mainstream worry to those foster­ing online relationships. In Te’o’s case, Kekua never existed, and the entire relationship blew up in his face in all of the tabloids, news channels and social media. And while this isn’t necessarily what one always should expect while trying online dating, or even just making friends online, it is a real possibility.

Say you don’t have the time to date traditonally. Hello, we are the generation of the Internet and social media, so why should you have to? But before you go answering all 400 eHarmony questions, I have a few suggestions to help you from being catfished.

Meet them face to face as soon as possible. The more excuses she gives you, the more nervous you should be. Why wouldn’t someone want to meet the person she’s dating online unless she has something to hide? If you can’t meet face-to-face, Skype. Again, if there’s any reason she won’t do that, get nervous. And always, al­ways, always meet in a public place where there are other people, just in case.

Stalk them online. Let’s be hon­est, you do it all the time to your ex-boyfriends and mean girls you went to school with. Just do it to this per­son. If you can’t find them anywhere, get weirded out.

Tell other people about the rela­tionship. Tell someone so he or she can check out the person’s profile and maybe find the red flags you missed. Tell someone else when you go to meet your romantic interest. True story: my uncle met a 23-year-old woman online living in the Philip­pines, flew there to meet her, brought her back to the United States, and married her last November. He did this all without telling a soul. While it worked out well for him, my entire family yelled at him because of how irresponisble and stupid he’d been. Before you go to meet, tell someone.

Use your gut. Your strongest lie detector is your instinct. If something seems off, chances are it’s for a good reason. Don’t ignore it, please.

If you use these steps, you’ll be less likely to be catfished, and maybe you too will have to make up stories of how you met your husband-to-be.