iStock_000019959219XSmallWhen you meet people online it is especially important to trust your instincts and use sound judgment to protect your heart and your money from fraudsters. There is no substitute for acting with caution when communicating with someone you are just getting to know. Many dating sites do not conduct criminal background checks, and it is always possible for people to misrepresent themselves. Assessing a match's truthfulness and honesty is ultimately your responsibility. Don't ignore any facts that seem inconsistent or "off." It is ultimately your responsibility to assess a potential match’s truthfulness and honesty. Remember that you have control over the situation.
Here are some essential 'rules-of-the-road' to help you safely navigate online relationships. 

1. Know the RED FLAGS.

    Watch out for someone who:

  • Immediately requests to talk or chat on an outside email or messaging service
  • Claims that your introduction was “destiny” or “fate,” especially early in communication
  • Claims to be from the U.S. but is currently living, working, or traveling abroad
  • Asks for money, goods or any type of assistance, especially if you have never met in person
  • Asks you to assist with personal transactions (depositing funds, shipping merchandise, etc)
  • Wants the relationship to progress faster than you are comfortable with
  • Reports a sudden personal crisis and pressures you to provide financial assistance. Be especially wary if the person’s demands become increasingly aggressive.
  • Asks inappropriate questions
  • Requests your home or work address under the guise of sending flowers or gifts
  • Tells inconsistent or grandiose stories
  • Gives vague answers to specific questions
  • Urges you to compromise your principles
  • Constantly blames others for troubles in his or her life
  • Insists on getting overly close very fast
  • Claims to be recently widowed
  • Disappears suddenly from the site then reappears under a different name

2. NEVER Share Financial Information or Personally Identifying Information

  • NEVER give out your credit card number or bank information.
  • NEVER share your Social Security Number, mother's maiden name, or other private information that can be used to access your financial information.
  • NEVER send money to someone you meet online, especially by wire transfer.

Immediately stop communicating with anyone who pressures you for personal or financial information or attempts in any way to trick you into revealing it.

3. Be Cautious When Sharing Personal Information

Be cautious when sharing personal information, as it can lead to identity theft. Never include your last name, email address, home address, telephone number, place of work or any other identifying information in your Internet profile or initial email messages.

Take full advantage of the dating site’s anonymous communication process, and resist the urge to provide a personal email or phone number right away, no matter how strong a connection you may feel. Once you've given out personal information, you cannot take it back!

Phoning with the other person is an important step in getting to know each other better. For added security, try using your phone's privacy features (like private number blocking) when you call.

4. Do Your Own Due Diligence

While many dating sites conduct certain types of screening, it is important to remember that such screenings are inherently limited. Registries can be incomplete or inaccurate, and states and jurisdictions differ as to what type of crime must be registered on their registries and what types of crimes get removed. Many crimes go unreported, and perpetrators are not always convicted. Relying solely on screening can provide a false sense of security.
It is also important to note that most dating services do not conduct background checks. They rely on the honesty of their members concerning their correct date of birth, marital status, city and state of residence, occupation, educational background and other information.

5. Take Your Time

While online communication can accelerate one's sense of comfort and intimacy, it is a false sense. The only way to get to know a person is to take the time required to get to know them.

Regardless of the connection you feel, it is always best to contact the investigators at Cadfael Investigative Group, Inc. immediately at (763) 694-6086 to conduct a thorough background check. We have decades of experience in detecting, deterring, and preventing fraud schemes. The cost of a background check is much less expensive than what a fraudster can take you for. We can help save your money.

--Cadfael.