Catfishing & Online Dating Investigations
Online dating has become a common way of meeting people and starting new relationships across the world. For instance:
- In 2013 it was estimated that there were over 2,500 online dating services in the U.S. alone.
- 15% of American adults have used an online dating site or dating mobile app. In addition, the use of dating sites and apps by young people (18 to 24 years of age) tripled between 2013 and 2015.
Unfortunately, the growth of online dating has also created an opportunity for shady individuals to take advantage of those seeking romance and companionship online through a practice known as “catfishing”. This has become increasingly common: a recent sampling of online dating profiles by Sift Science concluded that 10% of new dating profiles were phony.
If you’ve been in a purely online relationship with someone that you have never met in person, you should strongly consider a catfish investigation to ensure that they are not hiding or fabricating any aspect of their identity. A catfishing and online dating investigation by Trustify can help protect you from potentially harmful individuals looking to inflict emotional, financial, or even physical harm.
What is Catfishing?
Catfishing refers to the act of luring someone into an online relationship in order to take advantage of them emotionally, financially, or even physically, for their own personal gain. Most often, the culprit in a catfishing scheme will create a fake profile with an extensive background, photos taken from other profiles, and a network of fake online friendships. The catfisher will often spend a long time luring in their victim into a relationship that they work to strengthen over time. Once they have established an emotional hold, they exert control over their victim, generally for their own financial gain.
What is a Catfish Investigation/Online Dating Background Check?
A catfish investigation/online dating background check involves employing a private investigator to take a careful look at the life and history of the investigation’s subject to verify their identity, and all other information provided in online profiles, dating websites, and personal communications with the client. In short, an online dating background check will help you determine if an online persona is real, or falsified for the purposes of fraud.
How can you tell if you are being catfished?
Someone who is doing the catfishing could be a lone person doing it just for fun, or it could be part of an organized internationa group with the intent of comitting fraud for purely financial incentive. For a common person, it is hard to tell if the catfisher is in their basement in Michigan, or in an underground internet cafe in Nigeria. Either way, there are a few signs that you are being catfished, including:
- The catfisher doesn't want to speak on the phone or meet in person. Every time you make arrangement to get together, even if you suggest travelling to meet them, they have an excuse.
- Lack of pictures on their profile. Sometimes all the pictures the catfisher uses look like they are part of the same seriers, as if someone was modeling for a shoot. You should be weary if the person's pictures all look similar. Their profile should look like anyone else's with happy and sad pictures in every day life.
- The person asks you for money after they tell you they love you, or have strong feelings for you.
- They have few friends or followers.
- They get angry when you confront them about them possibly being fake and lying.
- It just seems too good to be true. This is a tough one, but if deep down it feels like things are too good to be true you should listen to your instints.
Who are Catfish Investigations/Online Dating Background Checks For?
An online dating background check is typically initiated by an individual pursuing a relationship with someone they have met via the internet. In some cases, however, the check is sought by a relative or close friend of someone pursuing an online relationship out of concern for that person’s well being.
Starting a Catfish or Online Dating Investigation
Running an online dating background check with Trustify is quick and simple. Every case is assigned a dedicated investigator and Case Manager to assist you every step of the way.
1. Request a Consultation: Submit your case online or by phone to schedule your consultation. We'll ask for the details we need to get your case matched with an investigator and provide cost estimates.
2. Consult With Your Investigator: A licensed private investigator will contact you to talk to you about the purpose and goals of the investigation, and to collect any relevant information about your case. Your investigator will ask you questions like:
- How long have you had a relationship with the background check subject?
- What is the current status of your relationship with the subject?
- Have you met them in person?
- Have you provided the subject with any monetary, financial or other form of assistance?
- How do you communicate (text, emails, instant messaging, telephone, etc.) with the subject?
- Do you have any specific suspicions about the subject?
- What are your expectations and goals in initiating this background check?
3. Investigation in Progress: Methods typically employed by investigators in catfishing and online dating checks include:
- Identity verification, including aliases and AKAs
- Criminal records search, including wants/warrants, Sex Offender Database, inmate/Incarceration records, and more
- Marriage and divorce records search, including marriage licenses, possible domestic criminal charges and related civil litigation, etc.
- Employment verification and history
- Court records search: Including federal, state and local criminal and civil courts
- Property, asset, and liability records search
- Additional records: driving records, reference checks, and more
Other investigative methods, such as physical surveillance, may also be employed if deemed necessary and upon your approval.
4. Case Updates & Final Report: Your investigator will keep you apprised of all developments in real-time. Upon the conclusion of the investigation, a full written report will be provided along with any court-admissible evidence. In addition, your private investigator may be available to testify on your behalf in a court of law, if necessary and agreed-upon before the start of the investigation.
What Investigators Will Not Do
Investigators will not attempt to procure any evidence whose access is prohibited by federal or state law, such as phone or bank account records. Additionally, your investigator will not knowingly break any law or ethical standard while conducting your online dating background check. However, investigators will use all means at their disposal to check the identity of an online persona, and are skilled at spotting red flags such as suspicious patterns of behavior, and will be able to provide a clear recommendation moving forward.