Standard Operating Procedure
Whether you are using an established online dating site, a dating app, or free online dating like Craigslist, there will be scams. After you have checked off the basics, here are a few things you can do quickly and easily to save time, and screen out many undesirable contacts.
Google It. Yes this simple thing can save you tons of wasted time. Copy a couple of excerpts from the post, or profile and see if you get any word for word matches. Most scams are not really all that sophisticated, so this works a lot.
National Craigslist Search. If you are responding to any post or ad, this search will show if the person has posted in multiple cities. Often a scammer posts in several geographies in There are several, I will be building one for convenience of Ronin readers in the future.
Reverse Search, using TinEye.com. TinEye has a great image search engine and it will find matches even if your “date” has heavily cropped or modified the picture. If you find the person has used someone else’s picture, it is time to end contact. Here is my page on how to use TinEye.
Use a burner email. When signing up for online dating websites, you should have a separate email that you use. Your email will be sold for spam, should one of your “dates” turn out to be a scammer. Remember to not put your full name in the email profile, as this information is transmitted with the email address.
Use Google Voice. This provides a free phone number with free texts and calls in the US. You can make initial contact using this number, and if the person turns out to be a scam and sells your number, then you drop the number and get a new one for $10. Pinger is also a service that could be used, but I have no experience with it.
Option: Go full hoodie. Temporary email services such as yopmail and a proxy/masking phone number service such as iNumber will provide more anonymity.
Remember that this is just to quickly screen out obvious scammers. In my investigations, I screened out 3-4 to every 1 that I responded to. That is where a little more sophistication is needed and being familiar with the patterns of the scammers is needed.
Should you use an Identity Verification Service?
The SOP is intended to clear out scams quickly, not be any sort of identity verification process. If you meet someone and want to make contact, you may choose to use a service. There are one time charges or subscription charges, so you need to determine if that has value for you.
I have never used one of these services beyond the initial free search, which provides minimal information. In the future I hope to check out these services and provide some better insight.
What do you think, are there any other things you do to quickly check out your date?