We read this article in the Guardian recently, and whilst it was an interesting read it really highlighted to us that the dangers of internet dating aren’t always as black and white as risk of physical danger – but emotional as well. Of course we’ve probably all heard stories or been warned to be weary when speaking to people on the internet, because at the end of the day the complete anonymity it provides means than anybody can act as just about anybody.
The story tells of a young woman, Claire Travers Smith, who fell in love with ‘Sebastian Pritchard-Jones’ online – and later found out that Sebastian in fact did not exist, but was one of many “characters” or personas adapted by Amy Palmer (a fake name to cover the real identity of the hoaxer). Amy used photographs of other males from Facebook without their knowledge, and used various names including Sebastian and Harvey, but there were numerous recurring factors which eventually led to the revelation there was more than one victim to this hoax.
Of course in this case there was no present danger to the victims, and there was no apparent or obvious reason as to why Amy was doing this – but this may not always be the case, and it is important to remember that the internet provides almost complete anonymity to the average person, and whoever you’re talking may not necessarily be who they say they are.
Not everybody who lies on the internet is a psychopath however, there are other reasons people may pretend to be somebody else and befriend you – including scams, identity theft and more. And this is nothing new, many people have fell victim to everything from lottery scams to internet dating fraud, email scams and other online-based hoaxes over the past two decades. It is always important to be extra cautious on the internet, and to remember not everybody is who they say they are.
We’ve spoke previously about the dangers of these scams and how best to avoid falling victim to the fraudsters in our article at:https://www.investigate.uk/profile/articles/dont-fall-victim-to-international-fraudsters.