Dating or cultivating relationships is hard enough, let alone trying to do it successfully during a pandemic. You’re putting your heart in the hands of the internet gods and trusting that they will guide you safely along the corridors of the unknown and unseen.
Don’t get us wrong, online dating is the way that many people meet these days, if not the majority. And with social settings limited in capacity or options, it is likely that your only option to find companionship is via the internet. That might even mean that you are seeking friendships by joining groups with similar interest, without the intent of finding love. Regardless, you are looking for a connection of some sort.
You enter the world of possibilities with optimism and likely the trust that that all is being done in good faith to connect you with other good and honest people. Can we just stop you right there for a minute? If you think you are street wise to spotting a dud from your days of clubbing it while having cocktails, think again. Think of it this way, you’re one type of person in high school, then you go away to college and can redefine your identity altogether because no one really knows that ‘other version’ of you. You can do it again in your adult life. And yep, you can do it AGAIN online too.
While going from geek to chic is one way of creating a new identity, there is also the “I’m a man in a foreign country pretending to be a woman that lives in your city who will meet you but will never show up and will likely gain your trust and then steal your identity or money or banking info and you won’t even realize what happened before it’s too late” approach. Or something like that.
You think that you are too wise to fall for it. You assume that you are on alert and therefore more aware of anything like that ever happening. That is what every other man or woman said before they too fell for a romance scam. It’s embarrassing and your ego will be bruised, but you are not alone and need to know that cybercriminals prey on our human weaknesses. And what more of a weakness do we all have than when it comes to love?
Have you seen a photograph of your future love? That’s great, but keep in mind that images can be pulled from anywhere online and photoshop does wonders. Entire identities can be created by pulling random imagery and data – do a quick search to find photos of people who aren’t even real. It’s out there.
We aren’t here to tell you that true love doesn’t exist and that it can’t be found online. It certainly can. But as you go along on this journey, please keep a few things in mind to stay safe.
Some of the lies that you may hear:
- I travel for work all of the time so I’m not around right now. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has found that oil rigs, in the military, or in the medical field working for an international organization are commonly used.
They need money for:
- Medical expenses
- Plane ticket or travel expenses – this may be in order to “meet up”
- Paying off debts
- Travel documentation
And unfortunately, these are often requested via transactions that are completed with wire transfers or gift cards. These are harder to trace, can be done anonymously, and are usually not reversible.
You’ll give away more information than you realize when communicating virtually. It’s easier to let your guard down and gain trust when you feel more relaxed, perhaps even more confident.
Love and romance, and certainly friendship, can all be found successfully online. Just make sure you don’t let your guard down and reveal too much, or trust too much, and do your research. Protect your heart while using your head.