Vetting and Evaluating an Online Match before and after you Meet

blox pix nov 12 2017

The next time you’re shopping in the online man store and maybe trying one on for size, you may have questions beyond whether the guy’s a good fit. Is he who he says he is? Is he a player? Is he losing interest or just not that into you? Is he a keeper? There are things you can do and signs to watch for to help you navigate the dating journey.

Help yourself to some pasta with olive oil, garlic, and parsley while I share my top 10 tips to vet or evaluate a man:

*Do a basic photo check. On a PC or laptop: save the guy’s profile photos and then do a Google image or Tineye search. On a phone: screen shot the photos (as many as possible) and then use an image search app such as Veracity or do a Google image search similar to the way you would do it on a computer. For detailed instructions, see: how to perform a reverse image search.

If the guy doesn’t have a photo, move on. There’s a reason he doesn’t have one.

*Be wary of perfect photos. If the photos remind you of a cover model on GQ, don’t even waste your time searching. These pix are likely “borrowed” from a website or Facebook profile.

*Search the guy’s phone number. Do a Google search or type the number into the search box on Facebook and LinkedIn. I’ve had great success with the Facebook/LinkedIn number search – even if the guy’s number is “hidden.”

An important aside: You should only give a guy your real cell number, if you’re convinced he’s legit and not a risk. Otherwise, get a Google voice number (free as opposed to a burner number). I usually wait to meet someone before sharing my primary cell number.

*Search the guy’s email address. Try the same search tactics recommended for phone numbers. All sorts of things will turn up. I’ve pulled up a guy’s TripAdvisor reviews, Amazon reviews, listing in a society membership directory, and his profile on a sex site.

*Know the signs of a catfisher. He is often widowed* (e.g., a tragic car accident killed his wife and child), an engineer in the oil or energy industry, works for the UN in some capacity, indicates English is his second language so as not to throw you off should you actually talk on the phone.

*Of course not all widows are catfishers but it appears to be the marital status of choice for those fabricating a profile.

If the guy doesn’t have a profile, move on. There’s a reason he doesn’t have a profile.

*Know the behavior red flags. His dating site messages or texts are sporadic; he answers questions you ask but doesn’t ask anything – or very little – about you; he views you frequently or favorites you but doesn’t communicate; he’s always – and I mean always – online; he doesn’t advance the e-mail conversation and doesn’t suggest talking on the phone or meeting.

*Be aware of a sudden shift in communication patterns. If you have been on a date or two or three and suddenly his good morning texts have stopped, it may not be long before he ghosts you or tells/texts you that it’s just not working out. One guy suddenly stopped his daily texting and then called to tell me that I wasn’t a good match because I lived so far away that he had to use a “pricey” EasyPass. Insert laugh/cry emoji.

*Observe negative behaviors on a date. He monopolizes the conversation, looks at every woman who walks into the bar/café/coffee shop, glances at his phone constantly, all of the above.

*Observe and enjoy positive behaviors on a date. He seems genuinely interested in you, listens to what you say and responds, maintains good eye contact, his body language says he likes you (hand or arm touching, feet pointed toward you), notes that he doesn’t want the date to end/mentions seeing you again.

*Observe and enjoy positive signs that the relationship is advancing. He frequently calls/texts you just to check in or to plan your next get together, he shares more about himself, he mentions doing things in the future, you inevitably spend weekends together, you start to meet each other’s friends.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

Anatomy of a Brief Encounter with a Catfisher

cautious-heart

The Bumble alerts provided the first clue that something might be fishy (as in catfishy) with my new Bumble match. Although his profile said his name was Bill, the alerts referred to him as Evans. I filed that away in my increasingly dating- weary brain while I juggled playing “let’s get to know each other” with impersonating Nancy Drew.

Let’s chow down on some shrimp scampi while reviewing the evidence.

As soon as I matched with Bill last Saturday morning, I followed the Nadia Standard Operating Procedure (NSOP) – a reverse image search of all of his photos on my phone using the Veracity app. There were no matches but that didn’t mean Bill/Evans was legitimate.

We texted and I learned he was a widower. As I’ve written before, catfishers/scammers often say they are widowers. I filed this second piece of evidence away.

After I got another Bumble alert announcing a message from “Evans,” I decided to ask this guy for his last name.

Side note: Lately I have been asking for the last names of any guys I suspect might have a false profile. The men always give me a name (real or not) that I can then research. So far, every suspect dude has turned out to be a scammer that I then report and unmatch.

Dear readers, if you’re unsure about a guy and decide to ask for his last name, here’s a suggested script in case he asks for yours: I’m asking for your last name for safety and security reasons but I don’t give out my last name until after I have met someone in person. If the guy makes it an issue, I say good riddance!

Back to the story: Bill gave me his last name – and it wasn’t Evans. I now had a full name to search. I was particularly motivated since Bill wanted to know what led to my late-in-life divorce. This is not a question to be addressed via text before you have met someone.

I searched Bill’s full name and immediately found his Facebook page – with one of his Bumble profile photos as his main — and only — photo.

Here were the final pieces of incriminating evidence: Bill’s Facebook page was virtually empty except for the one photo, which was loaded a week ago. Where does Bill live? His Bumble profile said Arlington, VA (a suburb not too far from me). Facebook, however, showed his location as San Francisco. The only personal information about Bill was his marital status – widowed — and his employment — “self employed.” There was no mention of the job listed on his Bumble page. Bill had only one Facebook page like – a media company called, Faith, Family America (this would be enough to turn me off regardless of his status as a catfisher).

My work was almost done. I reported Bill to Bumble and unmatched him (after taking a few screen shots of our exchanges to use as notes for this blog post).

It was only 1 in the afternoon but I felt the need for a glass of wine.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Dating Roundup: Safety, Security, and Truth in Advertising

blog post woman on phone

It’s time to revisit safety, security, and fabricated profiles in online dating. It’s an ever-present topic for me as I sift through profiles and interact with matches. When I started online dating, I spent a lot more time vetting matches. I still vet them but I’ve become pretty good at recognizing the scammers so I often don’t need to go through all of the investigative hoops such as doing Google image searches. Along the way, I found some shortcuts and tips.

Pass the salmon burgers with sweet pickle relish while I discuss the issue and the shortcuts. Warning: parts of today’s chat get a bit geeky.

Coffee Meets Bagel recently sent me a good reminder about online safety with a list of common scammer behaviors and profile characteristics:

-Profession in the military or engineering, works out of the country

-Recently widowed with children

-Overly complimentary with flowery, romantic language right off the bat

-Poor English and grammar, but high level of education (Master’s, Ph.D., etc.)

-Quick to get you off the app and into email/some other messaging app, but not text (they don’t have a working cell phone).

I disagree about the texting. I find scammers will sometimes text but rarely will they speak on the phone to you.

One of my go-to security checks is the Google image search mentioned above. This tool searches the web for photos that match the one you’re checking out. So, for example, you can see if a person in another geographic location has the same photo. Sometimes you will find that the photo is of a celebrity in another country.

I’m often using dating apps on my phone or tablet rather than my laptop. I wondered if there is a way to do an image search on these devices.

Mobile Image Search Tools

Of course, consult Google whenever you have a question. Not only are there reverse image apps, but there are a couple of other tricks. A PC Magazine article about image searching from a cell phone identified one strategy: using CTRLQ, a so-called Google Image search “wrapper.” Created by Amit Agarwal, this website tool can be used to search images on mobile devices.

To search an image from a dating app, you must first save it.

How do you save those Tinder and other app profile pictures? Take a screenshot of the image. On an iPhone or iPad, simultaneously press and hold the sleep/wake button on the top or side of your device while also pressing and holding the home button. You’ll hear the click of the camera. Your saved image will be in the camera roll. You can then select that image when using an image search app (see below), CTRLQ, or the desktop version of Google (another way to do an image search on your phone). Try it; it’s an easy process.

If you have an Android phone, you can use a similar technique to save images. Digital Trends reviewed screen shot techniques for a variety of Android devices.

Image Search Phone Apps

If you have an iPhone, type “image search” in Apps and you’ll encounter a number of tools. I downloaded Veracity and found it to be seamless. I’m not aware of any Android image search apps but CTRLQ should work on these mobile devices.

Non-Geek Tips

Safety is not always the issue with false profiles. Sometimes it’s a matter of misrepresentation. For example, how many men have you dated who have obviously lied about age and height?

One possible clue that a man has lied about his age: he is willing to date women 5 + years older. An older age preference doesn’t necessarily mean a man is 5 years older than he says, but look at his picture and see if that could be the case.

Age fabrication may not bother you. However, some of my friends say, “Well, what else is he lying about?” I tend to be forgiving if there is only a couple of years difference…but a bigger lie is more troubling and a likely deal breaker.

Another quick way to check out a new match is to search his screen name. You may find his alias on other dating, sex, and general sites. You can learn a lot from this easy sleuthing.

An Almost Meet Cute

Enough about online issues! I’m still working on meeting men in real life.

I had a brief almost meet cute Friday night. Walking up a long subway escalator after a night of jazz at Westminster Church, a man was about to pass me on the left. “Wanna race?” he asked. I quickly looked at him (age appropriate, too short but nice face), smiled, and went into high gear escalator racing. He laughed and said, “I didn’t think you would.” “I’m very competitive,” I said as I gave him a run for his money (placing first in the Olympic sport of escalator racing). Several children trailed Mr. Racer. Grandkids? His kids? You never know. And I was with friends, so the exchange ended there.

Just another almost meet cute in DC. I’ve got a million of them…. some day, one has got to fully develop.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia