Online Dating and Social MediaIn life it isn’t easy meeting the right person, the woman/man of your dreams in a chance meeting.

The one individual in the whole world that you feel completes you, gets you, loves you, and puts you above everything else.  The last face you see before you go to bed at night and the last voice you hear before you fall asleep.

The internet and social media brings these wants closer to you than you would have even been able to do on your own.  Once click and you see that perfect person posted on your screen with all the features you ever wanted, the smile that lights up your face, the eyes, the hair and finally the body; all are perfection, or are they?

We have conducted many investigations in which our Client has met somebody on the internet and in some instances have already developed a mental bond with them and no matter what their brain tells them; their heart reacts in the wrong direction.

John, a widower in his late 60’s, met such a woman, Amelia.  He was provided pictures of her in various situations and various stages of attire.  In each picture the eyes appeared to look right at you, and we are sure that is what reeled John in.  He was smitten, immediately flattered that such an “Angel” could have interest in him.  He was lonely and needed exactly what she was offering to him at that moment.

John was okay with a cyber-relationship, he loved getting pictures from her, and he loved getting emails and hearing that he was her knight in shining armor from across the sea.  John was ready to hop a plane and fly to the Philippines for a face to face meeting when he received an email from her that she had to obtain a legal divorce from her husband she had been married to for 10 years, since she was 26, but had not lived together for the past five years and then she would come to him.

The next email John received was an invoice in the amount of $38,000.00 from an attorney and had to be pre-paid or she would not obtain the divorce and could not come to the US and would be forced by her family to reunite with a man she did not love.  John was beside himself, his happiness and the life of the woman he loved could be gone in an instant.  John wasn’t a rich man, but he had his retirement fund, his savings, his house was paid for and he didn’t have any outstanding bills, but his best friend told him something just wasn’t right and had been telling him for months he wasn’t thinking coherently when it came to this woman.

John called and told us the whole story, sent us a few pictures Amelia had sent to him, forwarded some emails between them, the Hospital/Surgeon Invoice and the receipts from Western Union amounting to over $32,000.00 he had sent her within the last six months.

John’s decision to have a background investigation conducted upon Amelia was the first step in learning the truth and saving him further embarrassment and money.  We first conducted a search through a worldwide database by her name, her email address, country, and city and found nothing linking information to any such person.  We asked John for his cellphone, as we believed in one of the many photos and emails sent by Amelia could contain a cell phone spying application.  Mobile phone tapping has taken over the old landline phone taps.  When we conducted a cell phone forensics examination, we found a spyware on John’s phone that had allowed Amelia access to his texts, his emails, and his applications on his phone.  It was also learned that the number utilized to install the cell phone spyware was a US number.

We then took the original pictures John received from Amelia inspected the metadata of each digital file.  We used this data and compared it through an online search engine and found the exact images had been used in other social media accounts under different names.  All appeared to be part of the same scheme to defraud individuals of money with excuses of surgeries, legal expenses and even transportation costs.  Once the money was sent then more excuses would follow with more money being requested for various other reasons.

Upon further inspection we also found that the picture had originally been taken several years prior to the day “Amelia” had told John she had taken them.  The metadata had stored the “date created” info and other pieces of data put together pieces of the puzzle and finally enabled John to see the truth.  He came to us asking for the truth, no matter what the outcome and that is exactly what he received.  The individuals using the pictures had used some of the same email accounts but using different names and different pictures and were all part of a large scam operation.  Now John and hopefully anybody else reading this that uses social media for dating will be more careful in the future to avoid such a situation.

-Brenda McGinley, CEO, All in Investigations