online chat scams
online chat scams

More and more interactions in the world are taking place online. Phone calls are replaced by WhatsApp messages. Meetings take place on Zoom, rather than in an office. And people find friends on forums or dating apps rather than just by being out and about.

That last point has been most prominent during the recent world crisis surrounding Coronavirus. People under lockdown have used online tools to seek out the social interactions they were missing, whether searching for platonic friendships or romantic interests.

Yet do we really know who it is we’re talking to online when we use these apps? How often are we actually talking to ‘bots’, or people who are trying to ‘catfish’ us? Well, if you ever get to the stage of a meeting in real life, you can use a private investigator to help you make sure the person you’ve been talking to is exactly who they say they are.

What are the risks?

Unfortunately, a lot of people on the internet aren’t telling the whole truth. Sometimes you aren’t even talking to a person at all. In some cases, you’ll be talking to a piece of software called a ‘bot’ that is aiming to get you to pay money as part of a scam. While there are many ways to tell if you’re speaking to a person or a bot, they’re best suited to an article of their own, but what we will say is that you should never give money to someone that you’ve only ever met online. If someone is asking you for funds, no matter their sob story or what they’re offering in return, assume it isn’t legitimate and report it.

However, it’s when you’ve got a person on the other end of the conversation that’s asking to meet up with you in the real world where we can really help. You might’ve been talking to someone for months via an app or instant messenger and think you know them inside out, but they may have been ‘catfishing’ you. That’s when they pretend to be someone they’re not, preying on your interests or personal details to build a persona that’s easier for you to connect with.

Now, in most cases, when you meet someone in real life they will be who they say there are. And if you are catfished, even then most occasions are mild – maybe someone has chosen a picture of someone more attractive than they really are, or they’ve omitted some details about their life that may be important, but not a danger to you – such as if they’re in a relationship when they led you to believe they were single.

But it’s always worth it to be safe, just in case. You don’t know the real history of this person – the internet is the perfect place to start with a clean slate. So, if you’ve been talking to someone online for support during Coronavirus, or you’ve found a real romantic spark with a potential love interest but want to know more, why not give us a call?

Our private investigation service will let us carry out surveillance and background checks, within legal limits, to let you know whether a person is both who they say they are, and that there are no major red flags you should be aware of, such as a criminal history. The best part is that we’re completely discreet – they need never find out because we’ll exercise extreme caution and professionalism.

Interested in knowing more about how we can help? Call us on 01772 334700.