This Valentine’s Day—before looking for the perfect gift or planning a romantic date—ask yourself an important but often overlooked question: Is my valentine a criminal?
It’s easy to get caught up in the emotions of love, or perceived love. But doing so can have potentially dangerous consequences.
We recounted the story of one online dater who believed she had found the man of her dreams, when in fact she had found a monster. It turned out that he was a felon who had seduced, swindled and terrorized multiple women, many of whom he had met on online dating sites. With drug charges, gun charges, and restraining orders, one detective called him “a ticking bomb, capable of unpredictable violence.”
To ensure you don’t end up in a similar situation, do your own due diligence in discovering everything you should know about the person you’re dating. Keep in mind that online dating sites do not vet their members.
Here are five ways to vet your valentine:
1. Do A Reverse Image Search
Don’t wait until you’re emotionally invested in your valentine to do a reverse image search of this person’s dating pictures.
At the influence of someone at work who told her “the guy doesn’t want to meet you … maybe it’s not even him,” one online dater we wrote about uploaded her crush’s photo to a reverse image search and discovered social media accounts belonging to another man.
She confronted her online crush and demanded an explanation, but this “catfish” continued to deny he was pretending to be someone else.
2. Check For Mutual Friends
Is your online dating match friends with anyone you know? If so, asking this person his or her opinion of your match can potentially give you a better idea of who this person really is.
To discover mutual friends, check out the social media profiles of your match. Ask those people their opinion of your crush. You never know what stories might be shared.
3. Keep To Communicating Via The Dating App
If someone asks you to take your communications outside the dating app, pause. That a red flag.
Online dating scammers use this tactic to distance themselves from the dating site and therefore links to his or her crime. Knowing that it’s more unlikely that you’ll report suspicious activity or abuse if you don’t communicate via the dating site, a scammer might make an excuse like, “My membership is almost expired. Why don’t we talk via text?”
4. Do A Background Check
BeenVerified is a tool that can potentially help you learn more about the background of someone you met via online dating. You can potentially verify his or her identity, discover social networks and more.
5. Trust Your Instinct
One powerful tool is your instinct. If at any point your instincts kick into gear and you don’t feel right about something this person is saying, you’re probably right.
Don’t just take your valentine’s word for it. Ask questions and see how he or she reacts. If this person is having a hard time giving straight answers or provides only vague answers, you might be dealing with a catfish or a disingenuous person.
And if your valentine doesn’t want to meet in person at all, consider this a reason a find another one, as this is another telltale sign of a scammer.
Stay safe this Valentine’s Day by getting to the heart of who your valentine really is.