Digital Love

Many people look for digital love online hoping that this digital relationship can later turn into a lasting physical relationship. The combination of our natural need for love, pressures of cultural events such as the Valentine’s Day, as well as the convenience of the Internet and availability of many dating web sites provide a unique opportunity for a perfect digital fraud.

As you know, there are thousands of dating web sites on the Internet where singles (maybe even married people) can join to search for and meet the people of their desires. Some sites allow or may even require their members to provide as much information about themselves as possible in order to provide the best match possible and ensure a long lasting and successful relationship for their members.

There are usually many problems associated with online dating services which provide digital love. The biggest problem is that some members are not whom they say they are, and, have a different purpose for joining the dating sites than most members and it’s not finding a digital love. They join the sites to lure lonely, desperate and naïve people into accepting them for whom they say they are and sharing unnecessary amount of personal information with these fraudsters who plan to commit fraud.

Some of the dating sites providing digital love do a pretty good job at prescreening their members to make sure they do not provide false information to the other members. However, almost most dating sites do not and can not complete effective background checks of all their members because such prudent practices are very expensive and almost impossible if the digital love service providers have little or no profits from the service fees they charge to either their members or advertisers.

Having established that some identities represented on the dating sites might be fake identities with false characteristics which appeal to most people, we have a set of identity theft and fraud risks that authentic members face.

Let’s first talk about the fake identities which incite innocent people to initiate a contact based on false promises and characteristics. For example, not only a fake identity might have a nice name and attractive picture associated with its online identity, it also portrays itself as a person which most people desire while boosting the confidence of the naïve digital love seekers. The identity of the person might be described as such in order to attract many innocent prays. For example, here’s an example of a personal ad which might be attractive to a lot of people: “highly educated and former model seeks highly intelligent and spiritual person to join my empty mansion in the exotic island of ……. “. You get the idea but one thing we’ve learned a long time ago is to not accept online identities for their face values. You should always inquire about the member screening practices of the online dating service you plan to join, and then, based on that information; determine what else you can do to fully validate the digital identities you meet online. For example, you can perform a background check for a small fee if you have enough information about the person, or you can ask the person to meet via a video conference so that you can at least verify the posted picture, or you can run a Google search based on the name to see if you come up with any additional information such as other photos to help you validate the person.

Now that you have solid confirmation that the person advertised is really the person that you think it is, what kind of information are you willing to share with the person and at which point of your relationship? It’s always prudent to share the least amount of information, especially the ones that a) are not needed to move the digital love relationship forward, and b) can be used to commit fraud later. For example, you don’t need to share your social security number, the exact birth date other than you age, and passport information. Always assess the need for providing the requested information or voluntary sharing of unnecessary information. That’s why assessing what information to share and at which stage of the relationship is extremely critical. This assessment is different for each person which might be based on many criteria such as your trust level toward the person, your assessment of the need for sharing such information, your risk tolerance, and the speed by which you plan to move your digital love relationship forward. It’s always better to be prudent initially when meeting new people whether online or in person and assess the trust level of the relationship before sharing critical information.

Read this other article about dating the real digital love.