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Run a search: Copy the images your online correspondent has posted to his or her profile, then run them through a reverse-image search engine, such as Tin Eye or Google Images.
If they come up associated to a person with another name or who lives in a different city, you have good reason to suspect they were stolen from someone else’s profile.
But to younger readers, it may be utterly foreign, antiquated and unrealistic—like viewing a scene from an old black-and-white film in a world accustomed to the rapid-fire images of a high-definition action movie.
Instead, in the 21st century, technology is the way to date.
Interrogate the backstory: A little online stalking can go a long way.
Type the name of the person you met online into Google or Bing and see what comes up.
Experts say online daters are always wise to be skeptical regarding what someone they've met online, and not in the flesh, tells them.
To older readers, the scenario above may have at least a vague, distant familiarity.
Choose a friend or someone from your church or community who is less emotionally invested than you are. And remember: If the request for funds is indeed a scam, it may be difficult if not impossible to ever recover the money.
Shopping links are provided by e Bay Commerce Network and Amazon, which makes it easy to find the right product from a variety of online retailers.
And if you’ve been communicating with someone by email, check their address at a site such as romancescams.org, which compiles lists of email addresses belonging to known scammers.
The website Scamalytics maintains a blacklist of scammers who use false pictures.
“There was one woman who got scammed for over a million dollars, her whole retirement nest egg,” says Farquhar.