Carson and the rest of us here on the morning show crew are still reeling over the news that star Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o was allegedly duped into a fake online relationship with a person who didn’t even exist.
In a clip released earlier today, Te’o admitted to Katie Couric that he briefly lied to the press once he learned the truth about the woman he thought had died of cancer.
“Katie, put yourself in my situation. I, my whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12,” Te’o said.
“Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she’s alive and then I’m going be put on national TV two days later. And to ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?” Te’o reasoned.
So many questions come to mind. How could he fall in love with someone he had never met? Why was he chosen as a target? Will the hoax masterminds be prosecuted for a crime?
Carson reached out to our listening audience for some answers. Jacob, who works in fraud analysis for dating websites, pointed out some of the warning signs you should be mindful of when meeting someone online.
“There’s actually people who do it as a full-time job. They try and get people to think they’re someone else online to fall in love with them and send them money and it happens in other countries,” Jacob explained.
“When that does happen to people and they realize they were the ones who were being fooled, they’re too embarrassed to come forward with it, so nobody actually talks about it.”
What is one major red flag?
“If someone doesn’t want to have a conversation with you on the phone, I mean, that’s one of the big signs.”
The practice of catfishing has become an elaborate process in the digital age and Jacob says scammers have pinpointed a specific type of personality to exploit.
“It’s an older guy or an older woman who’s probably been divorced, who probably has kids. They’re looking for someone to settle down with, so they’re looking for something that’s a little more slow. They start off slow and if it builds into a friendship first and then a relationship, that’s what those type of people are looking for.”
Te’o is an exception to that rule, but Jacob said the football player should’ve noticed something was off when Kekua wouldn’t show up to meet him in person. So when is the right time to transition your online relationship into something more tangible?
“I think the sooner the better, but you have to be smart about it because there are those real people online who are weirdos…You want to meet someone to know they’re a real person. You want to build more of the one-on-one relationship that’s not just through electronics and email communication and things like that, but you need to be careful too.”
Jacob gave one final piece of advice. Don’t be fooled by glamorous head shots and tall tales about money.
“If it looks too good to be true, it probably is,” he said. “If you’re looking at these pictures, do you really think that person is going to be in that situation and they’re just going to send it out to a bunch of people online?”
- Have you ever been duped by a fake online relationship or did you pretend to be someone else online? Tell us about your experience in the comments section.
-Sarah Carroll, 97.1 AMP Radio/Los Angeles