Reading Profiles 101: Trick or Treat?

If you join the 40 - 50 million men and women looking for love online, you are bound to run into predators, scammers, and people who create fake identities. But fear not - the SDA Team has put together some helpful tips for figuring out if your potential date is a trick or treat!

Next time someone is expressing interest online, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Are their photos too model-esque?

If anyone looks like they are, simply put, "just too good-looking," it's something to take pause about. Of course you shouldn't doubt every attractive person you come across, but if someone's photos are all high fashion model shots, you might want to double-check that the person is truly who they say they are. It's very easy to steal someone else's photos and post them as your own - anyone can do it.  If the pics look too good to be true, try running a reverse image search to see if these photos show up elsewhere online under a different name!

2. Do they live far away from you (as in out of your state?)

Usually people looking for a serious relationship would not reach out to a stranger a thousand miles away because the difficulty that accompanies a long-distance relationship is hardly worth it when the two people barely know each other yet. People who try to strike up a relationship from an obsolete or far-away location are likely trying to lure you into cyber-love, without having to commit to a real life relationship.  They don't ever want to actually meet, and the supposed long distance is a convenient reason for them to always decline.

3. Are they trying to get you off the dating site as soon as possible?  

You will come across people who ask almost right away to take the correspondence off the dating site, and onto personal email accounts.  Sounds harmless, but this is oftentimes a clever tactic used to protect themselves while they manipulate you. Once you are off the dating site, the site can no longer track or monitor the correspondence.

4. Are they getting too serious, too soon?

When someone wants to become your boyfriend or girlfriend right away over email, without having even met you in person yet, that is a huge red flag. People who want to use you will want to get as close to you as possible so you will trust them. They want to glean information about your wants, needs, and vulnerabilities, while revealing very little about themselves.  Oftentimes they mask this imbalance by saying something along the lines of "Oh, I'm just such a boring person...but you're so much more interesting, and I want to know more about you!" Or they might call for sympathy by saying how they're just slow to warm up to you because they've been hurt in the past.

5. Do they refuse to webcam?

When people are trying to avoid you seeing them after you've been talking for 1-2 weeks, this is a potential warning sign that they are hiding their true identity from you.

6. Are they always mentioning lots of tragic accidents and illnesses in their family?

As we talked about before, people who are trying to manipulate you into a cyber relationship don't actually want to meet. One of their excuses besides long distance is to make up crazy stories involving accidents, serious illnesses, or even deaths in the family. That is their way of getting you to feel bad about pestering them to meet up, as well as sympathetic enough to stay in a relationship.  They might even use their stories to guilt you into sending money!

7. Do they ask you for money?

Speaking of asking for money, anyone that asks you for money online is definitely a scammer.  Whether it's $1 or $100,000 - run!