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Lessons learned from the Manti Te’o Hoax

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On Thursday, Manti Te’o will share his personal and painful story about the love hoax on Katie Couric’s talk show, Katie and all eyes will be watching.

Whether you’re a celebrity or the boy or girl next door, when matters of the heart are involved, it’s not uncommon to get lured in by a romantic pursuer on the Internet.

This most certainly doesn’t mean that all online daters are insincere, but the Notre Dame football star’s story will create more awareness about the digital courting process.

Spending time in chat rooms, Gchat, or Facebook chat provides an immediate connection with someone, who after a certain period of time, you may find yourself start to share personal information and intimate details with.

The next thing you know, you have that euphoric feeling that someone is in your digital corner. In other words, you now have a “digital pen pal,” not a real girlfriend or boyfriend. You want to share your exciting news with your friends, but if you online crush isn’t who he or she says they are, you’ll feel embarrassed and shame will kick in. You won’t want your friends to know you’ve been duped.

So before you start changing your Facebook status to ‘In a Relationship,’ look for these 7 signs that I shared with Men’s Health.

  1. Your online crush is quick to say, “I love you.”
  2. Your chats only take place late at night, when everyone else is asleep.
  3. Your new love won’t hop on a Skype call or video chat.
  4. The photos seem too good to be real.
  5. Multiple excuses prevent you from meeting in person.
  6. Your digital pen pal asks for money.
  7. Your new love is from another country.

Understand that the fantasy of the perfect person is so elevated, that you truly do believe you’ve met ‘the one.’ If this is the case, I recommend the following steps:

  1. Check their Facebook profile to see if the photos match up and if you have friends in common.
  2. Do a reverse phone number check by typing in their phone numbers in a Google search.
  3. Type in their email address in a Google search to see if they’ve created a digital footprint anywhere.
  4. Use photo recognition software such as TinEye.com where you can upload their photo and see if it appears anywhere else on the Internet.
  5. Do an in-depth background search from a site such as Intelius.

While these tips may provide information on your new digital love, not all of the data is available on the Internet. Let a close friend know you may be suspicious of your date and see if they can help solve the mystery. In many cases, as in this one, the person duping you may have a history of doing this to others as well.

Trust your intuition. Even Manti Te’o had his doubts about Lennay Kekua.

For more online dating safety tips, visit http://cyberdatingexpert.com/category/safety

For a timeline on the Mant Te’o hoax story, visit ABC News.

Julie Spira is a top online dating expert and bestselling author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online. She creates irresistible profiles for singles on the dating scene. Follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and at Facebook.com/CyberDatingExpert. Sign up for the Weekly Flirt e-newsletter for more dating advice.

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