When someone online presents as a different person than their true self, this is called catphishing, and it occurs on online dating sites.
- Google the name of the object of your interest. Obviously, "Kelly Smith" and "John Miller" won't get you far, but "Jaycina McArthur" just might. What comes up?
- See if they have social media accounts, as these suggest they're a real person. But the absence doesn't prove they're a phony, either. Not every legitimate person is into the social media thing.
Here are warning signs:
- More than one profile on a social media site.
- Few friends or followers on social media (but then again...this doesn't prove they're a catphisher. Remember, Hitler had a million followers, and Christ had only 12!).
- Photos don't include other people.
- Photos are headshots rather than of activities.
- They find a way to contact you other than through the matchmaking service.
- They quickly show neediness and request money.
- They quickly proclaim "you're the one" despite never having met you in person.
- Right click their photos to see where else they are online. Is it them on other sites or some model's or real estate agent's picture?
- Copy and paste excerpts from their profiles and see if they show up elsewhere.
- It may seem counterintuitive, but if you're interested, ask for a face-to-face correspondence early on in the relationship (like a week or so into it) so that you don't waste time getting dragged down by what ultimately turns out to be a catphisher.
- If the person doesn't use Skype, ask for a local meeting in a crowded public spot (assuming it's a local person).
- If they back down from a face-to-face meeting, be suspicious. They're not necessarily after your money, but that 6-2, 180pound stud might actually be a 5-7, 240 pound guy who's 10 years older than what his profile says.
- Don't reveal private information like where you work. Make sure there's nothing revealing about your location on your social media profiles. A catphisher will want this information.
- Be highly suspicious of someone who wants to know a heck of a lot about you-like if your parents live in town, what kind of home you live in, how much you earn, etc.
Trust your gut. If he or she sounds too perfect, they're probably fakes.