You’ve finally met someone on your favorite dating site who ticks all your boxes, and you’re getting on like a ram in a field of ewes. Well, at least in the virtual sense and from the safety of your own home.
You’re very excited and have arranged your first date for the coming weekend, then a friend suggests Googling your date.
But your conscience thinks that it’s immoral, and you’d rather go into the date with an open mind, minus any preconceptions.
However, putting your moral objections on ice, and turning to Google, is an idea that should not be dismissed so quickly.
For example, in 2004 a woman in New York Googled her date and found an FBI warrant for his arrest. He’d been on the run for a year after allegedly stealing around $100,000. Needless to say, she didn’t turn up for the date.
Then there was 68-year-old John, a pensioner from Stoke-on-Trent in the UK who was scammed out of £70,000 after falling in love with 30-year-old Crystal Brian, apparently from Abeokuta, Nigeria.
And John is not alone. In 2011 online dating scams have cost U.S. citizens over $2 billion USD, and it’s reported that 1 in 10 profiles online are fake. That’s a 1 in 10 chance that you could be talking to someone who’s not actually who they say they are.
Is your conscience now warming to the idea of Googling your date? I do hope so.
My Googling Tips
Two of the most powerful searches on Google are the text search, and the reverse image search. You’ll definitely want to make use of both to ensure no stones are left unturned.
Google Text Search
1. Google the person’s name. Yes sometimes it can be that simple. But if they have a very common name, you may end up with thousands of results. If a simple search doesn’t work, then try with the name in quotes: “Jack Jones”. Also search for the name in reverse: “Jones Jack”.
2. Try alternative names. If you have no luck with searching on their name, then try alternative names. Like Jim for James, Tim for Timothy, Suzie for Susan, and so on. If you know their nickname, try that too. If you’re looking up a married/divorced woman, then also try searching for maiden names.
3. Add additional identifiers. You can also add additional search terms to help pinpoint the results. If you know the person’s city, workplace, school, or any other identifying information, then include these in your search too.
Google Reverse Image Search
Google reverse image search is a very powerful tool in the home detective’s tool kit. I’m going to use the example of 68-year-old John who was scammed out of £70,000 to demonstrate how he could have avoided being scammed, if he had only known about the reverse image search.
1. Open Google image search as shown below, or simply click here.
2. Next, click the camera icon in the search field. Then save a copy of your date’s profile photo and click ‘upload an image’. You can also use a URL if available. I’ve entered the URL for the image of Crystal, who’s photo was used to scam poor old John.
3. Hit search and check the results. In the case of Crystal, the exact same photo appears in two more locations on the web. The first is pinned to the online dating profile of a Kaylasweet from the Philippines (although the image has since been changed, it’s still cached in Google). The second belongs to a porn star who goes by the name Kayla Banks.
If John was a few years younger, and a little more experienced with Google, he may have avoided this very costly and cruel romance scam.
Are There Any Downsides to Googling?
Let’s say your date turns out to be squeaky clean, at least in the algorithms of Google anyway. But you did stumble across their personal blog, where you found out that they were recently backpacking in the Himalayas, have a pet hamster called Fred, a large crazy family, plus many other personal details which you’ve not yet talked about.
This knowledge can make for a difficult situation, where you know something that you shouldn’t, and need to act ignorant when it’s mentioned. But it’s very easy to forget what you’ve been told already, and what you’ve not yet been told. So asking why they named their hamster Fred, when you’ve not yet learned of his existence, could result in a very awkward moment.
Of course, honesty is always the best policy. So if you do slip up, just confess that you found their blog whilst checking if they were on the FBI’s most wanted list.