…tips on how to stay safe
By Tare Youdeowei
With the coming of the internet came the good, bad and ugly. There have been successful businesses, lasting relationships and even beautiful marriages that sprung from the internet. There have also been serial rape cases, serial killing, theft, scams and plain evil which sprung from the internet.
These issues are all over the world, like the murder and dismemberment of Ingrid Lyne, a 40-year-old Seattle-area mother of three. Closer to home are the cases of late Cynthia Osokogu, the only daughter of General Frank Osokogu (rtd), who was lured by Facebook friends to Lagos, drugged and killed in 2012, and a manager in Shell Development Petroleum Company (SDPC) Nigeria and a businessman were killed in Rivers State by fraudsters impersonating as women on a dating site in 2014.
Hence, our focus today on Glam Tech is enlightening Nigerians on the dangers that can arise from online dating and most importantly, equip us with a knowledge of how to stay safe while meeting people and possibly starting relations with persons met via the internet.
First of all, limit chats to dating platforms, social media platforms or applications. This is pertinent because if communications are strictly on the site, scammers are unlikely to target you, because they know the dating site will detect their behaviour.
While restricting communication to online platforms, ensure you look out for suspicious people and where necessary, block him or her. Females can also be suspicious because men can open online platforms as females and vice versa. If at any point in your communication with someone on dating sites you have the slightest whiff of something not being right, block generously or stop chatting with the person.
Become an investigator
When you eventually decide to meet physically a person you met online, exercise some patience and take your time to research them online. You can do this by using Google Images to check whether the photos they are using belong to someone else and check social media sites to ensure they really exist. You can also search for sentences and phrases online, in case they are using a known fake profile.
Where possible, do a background check before agreeing to meet. Hire a private investigator to run a background check, as well as to find out if the person is a criminal. This is highly advised because dating sites do not investigate the claims people make on their online profile.
No house calls
Having done all these and you feel safe meeting with the person physically, ensure you meet in a public place. Not just any public place but a place you feel comfortable in. No matter the financial restraint, do not meet in your house or his or her house, as that could open you up for rape, robbery or getting killed.
Announce your date
Inform your friends and family about your online date, first of all to be sure you are not too carried away to detect a scam, and secondly, so they know where you are going to. During the date, do not change location. Do not get into the car with him or her or ask to be picked up at your place, no matter how luxurious the car is.
Curb your greed
Bear in mind that the world we are in, nothing comes entirely free. Do not be greedy during the date; be modest, especially if you do not want to give anything in return. Also try not to intoxicate yourself; hence do not drink too much so that you have all your senses intact during the date, more importantly, so that you do not end up making yourself vulnerable. Be cautious and ensure you do not accept already opened drinks from your date to avoid being drugged. At any point of the date the food or drink tastes off, discreetly stop eating and/or drinking.
Anything can happen
After all said and done, expect the unexpected. Despite how many times you have been on a date with the person you met online; do not let your guard down. Some persons take their time to rope a prey into a con or to convince their target of their love and devotion before they start milking them for cash or valuables. Hence, no matter how far into the relationship you have gone, be careful and alert. You can never be too careful.