Fraud on Social Media: It’s More than Just Catfishing

We buy houses online. We purchase groceries, order delivery, and summon cars to our doorstep. 

And we find dates. And roommates. These are people that we build connections with online and invite them into our lives, into our homes. And oftentimes, we don’t truly know who they are.

Shows like TLC’s 90 Day Fiancé, MTV’s Catfish, and Netflix’s Worst Roommate Ever help us commiserate with others who have been defrauded– and, in some cases, almost murdered– by individuals who have presented themselves in a very different way than they actually are. And as we’ve seen on Netflix’s Tinder Swindler, not even Googling someone can unearth their actual identity.

So how can you protect yourself online when you’re sure you’ve met your soulmate?

Making the internet a safer place

Whether defrauding a business or a person, all scammers have one thing in common: keeping their real identity a secret. Most individuals will hide behind someone else’s actual identity– like a catfish, for example– while others may create someone completely new.

It can be really easy to catch the most obvious red flags even if you’re not looking for them closely: refusing to video chat, only asking for money, sending messages that were copied and pasted off the internet, using stock photos, etc. Anyone can unearth if someone is a would-be scammer by no longer talking to the person if they won’t video chat or by doing a reverse image search.

But for those individuals where everything seems to check out, you’ll need to be more proactive– even if everything seems legit. Staying safe online when you take your interactions into real life means being 100% sure that who you’re talking to is actually who they say they are. Some dating apps have the option for their users to choose to verify their identity. Verified users are often marked the same way as celebrities on social media– with a blue check next to their name.

For apps that don’t have the option, verify your date’s identity with a simple ID check app. Solutions like BerbixMe, for example, are free, quick, simple and don’t feel invasive.

Why verify someone’s identity before meeting them?

It can feel weird or overbearing to ask someone to confirm their identity before meeting up. You might feel like they’ll think you’re too “high maintenance” or that you don’t trust them– leading them to potentially cancel your date or meetup.

But verifying someone’s ID is exactly the same as asking to meet someone in public or doing exchanges and sales in a police station parking lot– it’s about mitigating risks and keeping yourself safe. And individuals who truly have nothing to hide won’t mind confirming their identity– those that don’t are a clear red flag so you won’t need to waste anymore of your time.

How and when to ask someone to confirm their identity

The best time to ask for your date or potential roommate to confirm their identity is right before you meet them for the first time. If you’re using an app like BerbixMe, you can make the first move by sending them your public profile link and asking them to do the same.

If the person refuses to verify their identity, simply make your account private to revoke their access to your link. And if they turn out to not be who they said they were, you can easily remove them as a connection on your profile.

Some great connections can be made online, and you shouldn’t have to hold yourself back from meeting really amazing people because of fraudsters or scammers. There are ways to build trust and to try and stay safer as you meet new people– and verifying someone's identity is one of the best ways to do so.

Try identity verification for yourself. Visit BerbixMe before meeting up with your next online date or new roommate.