Online Deception: What to Watch For

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Online Deception
Dealing with online deception is much trickier than spotting a liar in person.
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Last week we discussed how to identify verbal and nonverbal cues to tell if someone is lying, but what if the person you are interacting with is online? How do you know if that person really is who he or she says they are or if you are dealing with some form of online deception?

The truth is that it is very difficult to tell if someone is lying to you online. It is important to be vigilant and refrain from sharing too much personal information, too soon, in order to limit the chance of being deceived.

The most difficult part about identifying dishonesty online is the lack of physical cues, such as body language. to help get a level of comfort with person. In fact, online, adults can pretend to be kids, men can pretend to be women and

Not only can you not see how the person responds to questions via nonverbal cues, but when chatting with someone it is easy for them to make up stories about where they are and what they do. People can even go as far as using a different individual’s picture or identity as their own.

Online Dating Fraud

One of the most publicized stories of online dating deceit is that of the Lonely Heart Woman, who was duped out of $2.11 million dollars by a group of con artists that pretended to be an engineer from a foreign country who needed money for equipment to complete a project before they could move in with one another. They even went as far as to hire a fake attorney to keep the “authenticity” of their claims.

We have covered such romance scams extensively on this blog before.

E-Commerce Scams

Online dating sites are not the only place you can be deceived. Craigslist, EBay, and Airbnb have all had their fair share of scams. While each platform has tried to improve their security and verification processes, dedicated con artists will always flock to such marketplaces that rely on person-to-person financial transactions.

Craigslist has a vast array of different scams from romance scams to fake vacation rentals, as well as more sinister schemes favored by predators. One recent example includes an identity theft scam utilizing a fake job ad The ad will seem like the perfect job opportunity, but then they steal your information when you apply to a fake background check and credit report. Another popular scam is via email where some sender pleas for money with an emotional story about needing to get back to his or her home country with your assistance.

What to Watch For

While identifying online dishonesty is difficult, it is not impossible.

There are a few red flags to watch out for when interacting with new people online. These signs include:

  • Anyone asking you to wire money.
  • A person who wants to immediately change platforms after matching on a dating site.
  • Inconsistencies with background stories or revealing sensitive details about their past right away.
  • Any attempt to evade or ignore questions that would help you confirm your new connection’s identity.

Ultimately, whether trying to decipher body language or putting in place common sense online security measures, dedicated con artists will never stop trying to manipulate victims both online and off. Limiting the information you share with unknown persons is a good first step until trust is established.

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