Call it online dating, social media love, internet love, they’re all the same. The common denominator is that you met your partner online. We have online dating sites and all sorts of match making organizations where those seeking for dates go to register and most times pay in order to be matched with someone. Sounds great right? Other forms of internet love include meeting someone on social media such as Facebook and a lot of others.
Online dating is relatively new and strange to many Nigerians. Some believe it’s a sheer madness for you to say you’re looking for a husband or a wife on the internet. Nigerians are also too religious thereby seeing online dating as a mundane practice. However, despite these beliefs, a lot of Nigerians have found their life partners online. While I personally see nothing wrong in meeting your sweetheart online, it is important to note that it’s not just about logging in and filling in your details or chatting someone up on Facebook and getting hooked up. A lot of people have been defrauded, raped, blackmailed and some even got killed by their online lovers. We must not forget Cynthia Osokogu in a hurry, (the only daughter of Gen. Frank Osokogu) she was drugged and strangled in a hotel room in Festac, Lagos sometime in July 2012 when she came to visit her Facebook acquaintances. We have a lot of fraudsters and sociopaths parading themselves on the internet with fake profiles and images looking for unsuspecting victims to trap. Some women pose as men to deceive and defraud their fellow women while some men also pose as women to defraud men.
How to Identify Fraudsters/Sociopaths:
- They Present What You Want.
Nobody can successfully defraud you without knowing who you are and what you desire. A fraudster first of all studies your profile and your personality. They look at your relationship status, your age, posts or uploads. They observe the kind of sites you visit and the things you share. A thorough background check on you would give them an idea of your aspirations and needs. For example, a married person who behaves as though he or she is not married; he or she never shares family images or posts is creating an impression that he or she is available. We upload and share personal thoughts and sometimes images that depict our emotions. This is enough for someone to take advantage of. When the scammer is done understudying you, he begins to tell you what you would want to hear. He’ll change his profile to suit what he feels you’ll accept. For those desperately looking for husband, the scammer would appear to be everything you want, in name, location, image, nationality and tribe. When you see someone who has everything you need, look before you leap.
- They Move Very Fast:
A scammer does not have the patience of allowing a relationship to grow gradually. He or she moves faster than you should ordinarily expect. It would appear like God has finally answered your prayers. He hits the nail on the head and makes you go gaga within a few days. When you encounter a fast moving lover online, be careful; you might be walking into a very serious problem.
- They Accept Everything You Do:
A scammer is not interested in you; he is targeting something from you and as a result he is not offended by anything you do or say. He is not discouraged by any flaw you exhibit. Someone who is really looking out for a partner would be put off if he discovers a flaw in you. A scammer may discover you lied about your marital status but he’s not perturbed; that’s your business. A genuine lover may not want to put up with that and as such discontinues the relationship. If an online lover turns blind eyes to some revelations about you, he might just be one of them.
There are many other very obvious ways you can identify a fraudster if you are very observant. But in order not to fall victim of these scammers, below are a few steps you might need to take when trying to hook up online:
- Do a Background Check:
Before you even start responding to someone’s requests, you must do a background check and crosscheck with other media to ensure that his profile is real. Use Google images to find out if the pictures you see are real. Check his/her Facebook wall and see if he/she has been uploading the same images consistently. Check out who are your mutual friends; are they people you know? Reach out to one of them if you can.
- Do not Rush:
When trying to get involved with someone online, it’s only a common sense thing that you move slowly. You must move slower than as obtained in a physical relationship. You are dealing with a stranger here; you must therefore give yourself enough time before you think of meeting him or her.
- Meet in a Public Place:
Do not visit a stranger in any hotel room or any outskirt or obscure location. Your initial meetings should be in a public park, beach or restaurant. This should continue till you are truly convinced that this person is genuine.
- Avoid Drinks or Food:
Well, this might sound difficult to some fellows; but you need to stay alive to eat and drink another day. Remember that many victims of these scammers are always drugged. Some of them (the killers) bring in their own drug mixed drink to the bar and asks the bar man to freeze it (of course you must have innocently mentioned your kind of drink during your chats). The unsuspecting barman obliges his customer. The drink or the food you are about to eat, might have been mixed with drugs.
- Inform Someone of Your Movement:
It is very important to inform a trusted friend or a family member of your movement especially while you’re still strangers. Let the person be aware of where you are going to and who you want to meet. Tell the person to check on you after a given period of time. Remember that Cynthia came to Lagos from Nasarawa but nobody knew she came to Lagos. Be security conscious.
- Be Discreet:
You need not be told that discretion is also an element of security consciousness. Do not talk too much or make too much show of yourself since both of you are still strangers. Never reveal your home address until you are sure it’s safe to do so.
- Limit Communication Channels:
Try not to talk to a stranger through multiple channels; do not use a channel that renders you vulnerable. Video calls are not as safe as chats and voice calls. Limit your contacts to one channel so you can easily yank it off if you sense any danger. Do not send your pictures until you’re convinced you are no longer strangers.
- Meet His Family:
Connecting with a family member of your online contact makes all things easy. Once you’re in contact with his family member, he’s no longer a serious threat.
Online connections work for everyone; you might want to give it a try while putting the above steps into consideration. You might just find a serious minded person. Some Nigerian date sites include:
Remain safe, remain happy, and remain lifted.