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Historical Post: The Dangers in Online Dating - May 22, 2016

The Dangers in Online Dating

May 22, 2016 by julieannhowe

So most of you don’t know me, but those who do, know that I have attempted online dating and the results have been…. well…. disheartening.  Let me bring about some clarity to that statement first, those who I met who were real people were often times charming, good and wonderful, so they do exist, but many I met were not or had some hidden agenda.  I wanted to share some of the tricks I have learned to sorting out the scam artists and bullshitters for anyone who is considering this media for dating.

Let me start with my experience.  I have tried the gamut of sites.  I figured when one didn’t work, maybe it was because it was free, maybe if I paid for a site it wouldn’t be a bunch of liars or foreign scam artists.  I’m here to tell you, that part is wrong.  While not all dating sites are created equal, the roaches are still there even in a paid site. They are just looking for bigger paychecks.

Let me back up by telling the original scam artist story that started the process landing me here today.  A few years ago, right after my husband and I split, and way to soon – but that’s another story-, I got out there on a dating site.  I wanted so badly to feel loved, and to feel as if someone somewhere wouldn’t toss me away like a piece of garbage.  I honestly don’t remember what the site was that I used back then, they morph so quickly, but I met a guy named Kelly.  Right off the bat I noticed that Kelly didn’t seem to have English as his first language.  I asked and he spoke of his childhood overseas and being raised by military parents in a foreign country.  He claimed to be from Virginia and he told me his wife had passed away when their child was little, and that now it was just him and his young child trying to make it.  At the time, he was always online, wanting to skype with me and chat, me with video and him with no video (his camera was not functioning he said).  I was lonely and he just filled a hole for me.  We spoke often and it wasn’t but a few weeks before he was saying things like “I love you.”  He told me was building a hotel on Victoria Island in Nigeria, and that he anticipated coming back to the states in three weeks when he would fly out to meet me and spend some time together.

He had a Facebook page with photos and he was connected to several people. He gave me his home address in Virginia and I could look at his home and day dream about the man he was, and the couple we could become.  I felt wanted and loved.  It was exactly what he hoped for.  What he didn’t know was that Facebook could connect the multiple women he spoke to, together.  It wasn’t long before a woman contacted me on Facebook and was wanting to discuss Kelly.  She asked me who I was, and I explained I was his girlfriend, and she came back stating that no, she was indeed his girlfriend.  Fortunately, this woman was level headed, and kind.  We spoke to each other and worked out what we knew to be facts, and came to a startling realization, Kelly was lying to both of us, he wasn’t real.  We kept the detail to ourselves, continuing our conversations with Kelly and researching EVERYTHING he said.  This project he was working on would suddenly fall under some sort of tax based problem, and he needed money to fix it, and couldn’t get his own funds in order.  He asked for help.  I didn’t have the means, young single mom, barely working and barely divorced, so being poor saved me, but she on the other hand, had the means and shared her finances by sending him his much needed money.  This was prior to her and I connecting mind you, but we figured out this was a big phony scam and a way to steal from kindhearted people.

This was the first of many experiences, however, after this one, I was much wiser.  A shout out to the lady mentioned, we are still friends and she is a wonderful person.  I thank her for saving me, and only wish I could have saved her sooner as well.  I did know I could return the favor by paying it forward and making people more aware.  So I started really playing the game.  Searching out the people who were scam artists and toying with them long term.  For every moment they spent with me, believing that I had money to help them (which of course I was loaded – or that’s what I told them) was a moment they couldn’t hurt someone else.  It became fun. Now in a matter of two sentences, I can normally tell you if they are a scam artist, what their story is likely going to be.  It’s not fun to have to weed through who seems to be real and who just flat out isn’t.  I’ve always felt it is a truly sick individual who chooses to feed on women or men who just want to share love.  It disgusts me in the most profound ways. This is literally a career for many people in many countries.  Be aware.  Rooms full of people just looking to take advantage of you!

So here are some things I have learned that I can share from online dating that might help you.

Do not, no matter what, date someone you meet online who is more than a couple miles away.  I set my radius to 50 miles.  I won’t date guys from Seattle (I’m near Portland), and I won’t consider people in L.A. or Phoenix or anywhere else in the US.  If these men are real, it’s rare.  If you can’t meet them for coffee in a public place, just walk away.  Let’s be real, if it is someone who is a legit good guy, who just lives a little farther away, that doesn’t normally pan out and the spread of mileage is just too much.  If you truly feel drawn someone who is farther away, demand a meeting in person as soon as possible, on his expense, and make it public.  I can’t say this part enough… STAY SKEPTICAL!  I heard at one point, from a wise friend, no matter how much you want to believe in someone and fall in love, even in person, don’t go 100%.  Save 5% for yourself.  These are words to live by.  Ladies and gentlemen, if they are who they say, they will step up, they will prove to you they are real and they will show you that maybe eventually you can let go of that 5% of skepticism and take down that last wall.

Military photos are stolen from soldiers to create these profiles! If you see a military photo or the other big one, a handsome man in a business suit… chances are this is fake. Put up the red flag as you progress with 75% caution and only 25% gullibility. No joke, it makes me so mad that the soldiers in our country are becoming victims to identity theft in order to swindle men in women searching for love!  DISGUSTING!!!

A key thing that shows me right off the bat that they are foreign and are not real, poor English!!! Kids, we all work with or know people in our lives that use English as a second language.  It’s a bitch of a language to learn, pronouns are difficult. I don’t know how many times my Chinese boss calls women “he”.  Language can be the first indication that you are dealing with someone far away.  Even if their address says somewhere close by, if they slip up with some janky-ass broken English, zone in on that, don’t let it slip by.  Truth is, there are some decent people who legitimately are from other countries and live here, and are looking for and deserve to be loved like the rest of us.  Don’t go eating his or her face off for having broken English, I’m just saying, don’t let it slide past unnoticed, and don’t be naive to it.  If you hear it, or read it on the screen, ask.  Ask if they are originally from the states, get their story.  If they are close by, that will be a great conversation piece when you have coffee…. get them to meet you for coffee!!!!  I have met a couple of great guys who were originally from Egypt or Nigeria, who live here, and have made a life here.  They aren’t all evil. Just be aware. Key terms that throw me into knowing what’s up… instead of “I would like to get to know you,” would is excluded.  Adverbs in the English language are very hard to comprehend and often left out.  So the statement ends up being, “I like to get to know you.”  Janky… just sayin.

Even if the phone number is from your area code that doesn’t mean shit kids!  They can now buy the prepaid phones anywhere for any area code.  They also have people here that help them by sending them prepaid phones and sims that are for certain area codes to back up their story.  I swear to God they even follow scripts, but more on that later.  If you do a search on the cell phone and  it comes back pre-paid, don’t screw around.  Most self respecting people with good jobs have a cell plan, and if you do a search on them it will tell you the number is prepaid or if it is “owned” by a carrier.  The other big indication is, if they cell #changes multiple times.If they want to Skype, make damn sure you can see their face.  They will claim that connection is bad, or that they have a camera that isn’t working.  If you are investing your time, force this issue or walk away.  They don’t want you to see their face because they don’t want you to know they aren’t the white guy they claimed to be from Virginia… or it looks nothing like the photos he sent to you.The story line will be some sad sob story.  Single parent via tragic circumstances, like legit, oh my God you poor thing, where’s the tissue, Facebook video kind of stuff.  Wife battled cancer, died when the child was 2.  Single parent of normally one or two children.  I’ve seen both girls and boys for the kids but girls seems more touching because a little girl needs her mom… so will you be her mom?!  The other version of the story is that the spouse was cold and just abandoned them completely.  Okay, as a single mom, this shit can feel pretty real, but honestly, if you get this story in combo with broken English, SAVE YOURSELF and RUN!Another thing you will hear is how they traveled overseas for something.  This has recently morphed a bit. Now they are even stating that they just had to travel across country from where you are.  They claim things like, my daughter suddenly tragically ill and they won’t perform some needed procedure that is potentially life-saving because they need a down-payment. I have one word for that “Obamacare”.  If there is truly something life threatening going on, there is care available to the child, period.  When I fell ill and almost lost my life, the hospital managed EVERYTHING for me.  They literally pushed through my coverage to ensure that my care was paid for.  It was like a well-oiled machine and I didn’t have to stress or worry about that in a time when I needed to focus on getting better.  Yes the aftermath can leave you with some bills, but in the moment, that care will be managed.  So know that this is Bullshit, Bullshit I say, BULLSHIT!

Things you can do to protect yourself as you attempt this world of dating.

Hold on to your faith.  As you meet these people, it can become fairly devastating. I say this first hand.  There are good people, just like you out there that are real and really want to meet you and find love.  It’s bad enough that you have to wade through the jerks who just wanna have sex and run, but to have to also make your way through scams, that just sucks.  Just hang in there, it’s discouraging but other singles are real, we do exist!Trust your instinct.  If your gut leaves you raising an eyebrow (and I’m pretty certain my face is stuck that way now) trust it!  Your instinct is your bodies way of sensing danger is near or that something isn’t right.  It’s a sixth sense that helps to narrow down when this is a concern or a problem you are facing.  Second guess everything!Never give out your personal detail.  They won’t ask you much about your life normally, it’s all about theirs and the web of scripted lies they love to weave.  Listen for inconsistencies and don’t tell them things like where you work or where you live.  Don’t divulge work hours or when your house might be vacant.  Don’t mention where your children go to school or the kind of activities they are part of.  Truth is, not all of these scammers are overseas, some are here, and some want more than your money, so play everything cautiously.  Protect you and those you love most.Do not, by any means, share nude photos of yourself, or allow yourself to Skype sexually.  I can’t drive this home enough.  The world is already pretty cruel in the sense that you may be dealing with a scam artist, but feeling duped is already hard to take, but knowing you allowed yourself to be sucked in to a point of virtually being defiled…. that leaves a whole  different feeling of illness in the pit of your stomach.  I say this from experience.  In wanting to be loved so much, in believing so much, I have shared some of my most intimate parts, and that’s a horrible feeling.  Oh, so you’re a liar and a scam artist, AND now you have nude photos of me… AWESOME! You feel raped.  It’s horrible, and you allowed it to happen.  So if I can share with you anything, please don’t do this to yourself.RESEARCH!  My most recent scam artist told me about a meningitis outbreak at U of O in Oregon…. this supposedly happened last week.  This person went as far as studying the kind of follow up visits you might get with the doctor and the kind of suffering an symptoms he had from being so dangerously ill.  It dawned on me that Meningitis is a very dangerous illness and it would likely be reported as an outbreak or epidemic.  I did some research and sure enough, there was an outbreak last May, how many cases were reported was even listed.  There was nothing recorded as being reported for 2016.  If they give you addresses or full names, do background checks.  If they have birthdays, save the date and that helps with background checks.  I pay $22 for a monthly service and I check people all the time!  Reverse phone number searches are often available on these sites.  It’s worth the peace of mind if you are seriously putting yourself out there.  If you are a friend and we have dated or talked about dating, you can bet your ass I looked you up. Just sayin. This is my life and my future and the safety of my children and my home. I have to take it seriously.  Look people up!  If they have a Facebook, check their friends and their interactions, if they don’t, think on that a little, ask why.  Some people don’t want the drama Facebook can bring, I get that, but make sure the stories add up.  If they refer to current events in their area, or big happenings, look into them, find out if they are true.  This same individual had his home invaded and the cops came, when I did research, not only was his address not real, but there were no theft or home invasions logged calls through their dispatch in that county on his street the day he claimed.

Don’t be hard on yourself.  These people are sick. They feed on people because they are good, wonderful people who just want to find a special someone.  I know all these things I have shared because I believed in someone at one point or another over the past 4 years single.  It’s hard to swallow, yes, I felt and feel still sometimes gullible.  I hate that I am so leery of everything people say and that I have to remain guarded.  On occasion, as I am still single, I fall into something where the person is just so DAMN good at lying that they pull one over on my slightly for a little while.

The truth is, if it seems too good to be true, it is… people aren’t that perfect cookie cutter that they are claiming to be.  I mean, I’m a perfect example, I’m successful and independent on the outside, people genuinely like me, and I even like myself, but under the surface, I’m a two time divorcee who has been abused and has abused alcohol, I have horrible credit (which I’m improving), and I’ve made some VERY bad decisions that have set me back in life.  I have baggage, I am, no matter how great initially, not perfect for anyone.  I will require patience and kindness in order to love me.  I feel with someone my age, we all have baggage, we all have history and we all need that same patience and kindness to get through and love long term.  So if it seems like a glorious, everything fits, wrapped up into a pretty package with a bow on it, chances are it isn’t real.  I can’t tell you how many times I thought, wow, maybe this is it, maybe life is finally giving me what I truly deserve in a man…. NOPE, NOT, THINK AGAIN, AIN’T HAPPENING. Truth is, what I deserve isn’t gonna fit into a cookie cutter mold of what I think I deserve.  When I find the right guy, it is still going to take work. He’s not going to swoop in like a fairy tale and fix my world and save my heart.  He’s gonna be an asshole at times, who has problems of his own, who’s family drives me crazy, and who is hopefully mostly supportive and is not someone I always want to punch in the face.  So if you know any dysfunctional asshole who is single, send them my way!

Be ever vigilant, protect yourselves, and don’t let people break your spirit.  Just know that no matter how disheartening things get, there are real people, good people, out there, and there isn’t anything wrong with you that is welcoming this kind of behavior into your life.  Learn from things and trust your instincts. You will be better for it.

Here is a great story for reference:

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