In the wake of the Manti Te’o scandal, it’s easy to fear being duped by an online relationship.
The Notre Dame football star, Manti Te’o, has become the center of a fierce debate in recent weeks for his either naiveté or willful deceit surrounding his fake girlfriend, Lennay Kekua. The tragic three-year romance made national headlines for the college football star after Kekua survived a car accident only to later succumb to leukemia.
Yet all she ever was were contrived messages on Twitter and elsewhere. Her photograph had been stolen off the Facebook account of another woman. Te’o insists he was duped by someone who wanted him to fall in love with an imposter, with a ghost created by today’s technology—a phenomenon known as “catfishing.” The term comes from the 2010 documentary, “Catfish,” which examined a deceitful online relationship, and the MTV show that followed.
The rise of catfishing has generated serious interest from people wondering if their online boyfriends or girlfriends are real or not. A private investigator can help to clear up the concern with background checks to confirm online identities.
My firm sees a lot of requests for background checks from both men and women looking to confirm the truth about their online dating partner. For a nominal fee, you can use a private investigative service to conduct a background check using their name, address, date of birth, and their social security number. Most of this information is provided by online dating services, but if your match is hesitant to provide their social security number, the first five digits will be sufficient. My firm sees a lion’s share of work in this area due to our in-house state-of-the-art computer system, 888USUNITE locating system, and the public’s comfort working with former supervisors and federal agents.
Other ways to avoid being catfished:
• Fact-check. Don’t be afraid to Google someone you’ve just met online. If you met over Facebook, use Google’s “search by image” feature to check for multiple Facebook profiles using the same photo. If the person messaging you isn’t the only person claiming to have his face, you know you’re likely looking at a fake account.
• Don’t be afraid to offend or make uncomfortable. If someone is pursuing you online, you have every right to ask as many questions as needed to put your mind at ease. It’s not unreasonable to request proof of hard-to-believe information. If she or he is who they claim, making you feel safe and secure will be a priority for them.
Are you worried you might be being catfished by your online relationship? Before you get too invested, please let me know and I would be pleased to address your concerns.