You See Love, They See Gold: Yet Another Online Dating Scam

 

gold bars

Think carefully before sending money to someone new in your life, no matter how convincing the story sounds. Photo Credit: John Louis, used under Creative Commons license. https://www.flickr.com/photos/investingingold/

Yesterday we looked at the growing phenomenon of online dating scams that are cheating unsuspecting and vulnerable people out of millions of dollars across the globe. While we noted that online dating’s move to the mainstream is likely the main cause in the growing number of scams out there, another long-term trend is also partly responsible: Globalization.

Anyone reading the news today can become discouraged with the number of crises and conflicts in the world. Today’s news of conflicts, while terrible in their own right, can also provide scammers with fodder for their next ploy.

The BBC reported on the latest example of such a scam yesterday.  A woman from England was duped by a man she met through an online dating service into what she thought was assisting his “Syrian sheikh” buddy import valuables legally into the country. The elaborate scam involved the woman paying thousands in fake tax bills and custom fees. After the woman realized she had been scammed, it was too late. While the police were able to trace the money back to a location elsewhere in England, the culprit and money were long since gone.

As the victim in the story remarked, vulnerable people are especially susceptible to this type of scam, particularly when dealing with skillful con artists who can rip news from the headlines to help support and validate their schemes.

While this particular story may seem far-fetched, we would argue that this type of scam could potentially befall anyone, not just the especially vulnerable or naïve. When you make a connection with a potential mate, online and off, judgment can become clouded, particularly in matters of money. That’s why we encourage verifying the legitimacy of a potential date early on, before you feel emotional attachment.

BeenVerified makes it easy to take the first step in building trust online with a potential partner with our extensive, affordable and accessible background check service.

What is the sketchiest thing a date or partner has asked you to do for them early on in the dating process? Let us know in the comments, but keep it PG-13, please!

Your Next Date: A Con Artist?

 

love:money

Make sure your online date wants you–and not your money. Photo credit: Just Deon, under Creative Commons license. https://www.flickr.com/photos/reign4aday/

As online dating has gone from niche to mainstream, scams targeting online daters are exploding, with more and more people using the Internet to prey upon the unsuspecting to make them fall in love and then steal their money.

British newspaper The Guardian recently called dating scams “the most costly in existence” and reported that in Australia there have already been 43 people this year who have lost more than $100,000 each in related scams.

Con artists spend time and effort to perfect their scams, which can make it difficult for the average person to determine whether a new online romantic interest is the real thing or simply a scam.

Here are some simple steps that you can take to protect yourself from a fraud.

Step 1: Scrutinize their profile. 

Keeping in mind that many people manage their profiles in such a way as to only present the best about themselves to potential dates, look at what you can see about them and honestly assess whether it looks too good to be true.  Conversely, profiles with minimal or vague information should also serve as a red flag. Is the text the work of a unique and down-to-earth individual, or are the phrases cookie cutter? Does the person seem to be in a rush to find a partner?

Step 2: Check out their pictures. 

First, are there pictures? In this day and age, it is safe to assume that someone who isn’t willing to share pictures and is trying to do online dating is likely hiding something.  Second, are the pictures all of the same person?  One thing that con artists do is make profiles from pictures that they have found that seem similar, but upon closer inspection, are actually of different people! Third, where else can you find the pictures?  Google has a feature that allows you to search for other locations of pictures online. Is that person’s picture an image used in multiple, seemingly unrelated websites? Or can you trace the picture back to a legitimate social media profile?

Step 3: Consider a background check. 

Is there a person matching that description?  Using a company like BeenVerified for a background check, you can find out if there is a person with that name and that age living where the person claims to live.  While it is possible for an adult to have no public record footprint, it is rare, and the lack of a verifiable identity is a huge warning sign that you may be on the verge of being scammed, or at least have caught a catfish.

The most important point of all: never send money to someone you haven’t yet met in person. Most online dating scams rely on building an emotional connection with the victim and getting money sent through services like PayPal or through other means online

Have you had any experience with online dating sketchiness? How did it turn out? Let us know in the comments.

Three Reasons to Keep a Background Check App Handy This Weekend

 

One of the best things about the weekend is escaping the office and not being chained to your desktop computer. We enjoy getting out and about too, but also appreciate the ability to access important information on the fly.

Take BeenVerified with you this weekend.

Take BeenVerified with you this weekend.

This need is a large part of why at BeenVerified, we spend a lot of time on making our products flow effortlessly in a mobile environment, whether you have an iPhone, iPad, Android or other mobile device. As TopTenReviews.com recently noted, we make it easy and cost-effective for you to search a person’s public record, a phone number or a property from the convenience of your smartphone.

But will you really need to run a background check this weekend while you’re soaking up the last rays of summer at a backyard barbecue?

We can’t say for sure, but here are three possible scenarios to consider:

  1. A fun night out

Going out with a group of friends to a bar can be a great way to meet potential dates. If you hit it off with someone, or conversely, if someone gives you the “creepy” vibe, having the convenience to look up their public record, review their social media presence and confirm their lack of a criminal record may give you the peace of mind needed to give them your number to set up a date.

  1. Your kid asks to sleep over at a new friend’s house

Your son or daughter may have recently met a new friend whom you have had little interaction with, and absolutely none with their parents. If you are uncomfortable with allowing your child in a new person’s home and don’t have the opportunity to meet with the parents, peace of mind can be a background check away.

  1. Last minute beach trip 

    Make sure it's real before you pay the money. Photo by Jason Jones: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jjay69/

    Make sure it’s real before you pay the money. Photo by Jason Jones: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jjay69/

BeenVerified offers a property search feature that is perfect for verifying homeowner information and avoiding the many scams that proliferate on Craigslist and other sites that specialize in vacation rentals. You can also use it in conjunction with a people search when transacting on AirBnb.

These are just a few of the many reasons you could need to run a background check this weekend, or even multiple background checks.

This is why BeenVerified has worked hard to not only provide customers with mobile access but also affordable searches.

We never want you to have to ask yourself if it’s worth the money to run a background check.

Have you used a background check for any of the above reasons? Let us know in the comments.

 

Guest Post: Why BeenVerified Made TopTenReviews.com

TopTenReviews logo

Note: This post was contributed by TopTenReviews.com

In March 2014, TopTenReviews.com rated BeenVerified 8.98 out of 10 in its annual Background Check Services Review. TopTenReviews’s verdict was that BeenVerified “offers accurate background information quickly about relatives, potential dates, and other individuals.”

The quickness with which one can access information about an online
acquaintance, out-of-touch friend, or even one’s own background earned BeenVerified the TopTenReviews Bronze award for the Background Check Services category.

Extensive Searches

BeenVerified is an affordable background check service that aggregates public records information, including address history, phone number history, marriage records, divorce records, property records, and more. BeenVerified also provides criminal background history for both misdemeanors and felonies, including but not limited to sex offenses, arrest dates, fines, and more.

The TopTenReviews staff found BeenVerified to be one of the most accurate services for discovering and listing relatives of the person being searched. They were also impressed by how thorough BeenVerified was when providing address history. BeenVerified also employs court runners who, for an additional fee, will go to retrieve a copy of a specific court document in person if you are unable to pick it up yourself. This service is particularly useful when one is searching for clarification on a court case that was tried in another state.

Accurate Information

The TopTenReviews staff was also pleased with the accuracy and quality of the information provided by BeenVerified. In their test searches, they were able to locate the correct individual in the provided search results. These test searches for known persons were very accurate, listing the correct age, family members, known aliases, and more. All background check information is carefully presented in order make each source clear and understandable.

Ease of Use

BeenVerified offers a clean and easy-to-navigate website, as well as generous preview reports to help verify that the report is for the correct individual. These preview reports are important because BeenVerified offers a la carte background checks in addition to a monthly subscription. The preview provides enough information that consumers will not need to weigh whether the report will be worth the expense. The TopTenReviews staff was also impressed by the logical, easy-to-understand presentation of information, which saves time by eliminating the need to further sort the information provided in the report. These reports are not simply raw aggregate data dumps.

Excellent Customer Service

TopTenReviews lists BeenVerified as offering among the very best customer service of the background check services they reviewed. BeenVerified boasts a customer support staff based in New York City and Miami, Florida. The TopTenReviews staff found it quick and easy to get a customer service representative on the phone who was able to answer any question they had about the service, which was a rare occurrence among the other services they tested. BeenVerified offers an equally helpful live chat feature, FAQs, and other documentation to complement its stellar phone customer service.

Conclusion

BeenVerified offers extensive background checks culled from public records, presented in a logical, easy-to-understand report. The service combines these reports with an easy-to-navigate interface and industry-leading customer service. BeenVerified focuses on fair business practices by providing generous preview reports before charging customers for the full collection of available information.

Read the entire TopTenReview.com article and ranking here.

Is Google Hiding Something from You?

 

We love Google.  Who doesn’t?  Its wonderful search algorithm has made searching for things on the internet fast, efficient, and easy.  This has made many of us think that we can find anything on Google.  For example, we might think that we can run an adequate background search simply by using identifying information to Google someone.  However, that would be mistaken.

Does Google have what you're searching for?

Does Google have what you’re searching for?

A Google Search is not the same as running a background search.  In fact, what makes Google a great comprehensive search engine can actually work against running a background check on Google. And increasingly, Google searches can be the subject of censorship.

To understand why running a Google search is not the same thing as running a background check, it is important to understand what Google can search.

Google does not search all publicly available information.  Instead, it searches information from websites that are accessible by the public without restriction.  Therefore, if the information could be accessed without a password or a fee, then it might be returned on a Google search.  However, if the information is only available for a fee, then it is generally not going to be on the type of page that Google can search.

Second, Google returns searches by relevance, but does not exclude irrelevant information.  Therefore, running a search for someone with their identifying information may return searches for people who share the same name, people who share the same birthday, or other identifying factors.  This can make it difficult to determine if the person identified in the search is really the one that you’re trying to find.

So, what makes a BeenVerified search different from a Google search?

First, BeenVerified is going to consolidate records about a single person into a unified report.  This helps eliminate the overlap that can occur when looking for a person that shares a name with others or even people who share both name and date of birth with others.  Although that scenario might initially seem unlikely, when you consider how many people share some of the most common names, it becomes clear that it is not only possible, but actually likely for that to occur.   By consolidating reports by person, BeenVerified can help eliminate this source of confusion.

Furthermore, BeenVerified has access to databases that otherwise require payment.  What this means is that, for the price of a single BeenVerified search, you get access to information that might otherwise cost multiple fees and require multiple specific searches.

This type of information may include civil court documents or government records, such as marriage licenses, divorce records, and child support agreements.  However, it can also include criminal record information that is not generally going to appear on a generic Google search.  What this means is that, while Google can be a great way to start an internet investigation of someone, BeenVerified provides the type of in-depth information many people are seeking when running a background search.

Why Couldn’t I Find Who I Wanted on BeenVerified?

 

BeenVerified offers a robust background check service, but sometimes a search will come up empty.  There are a few different reasons that this could occur.  Some of the reasons are due to innocuous explanations, such as the person not establishing a public record or the material not being digitized.  In other cases, the lack of a public record may serve as its own red flag that, perhaps, the person is not who he or she appears to be.

Is the person you are looking for using an alias?

Is the person you are looking for using an alias? Photo credit: rachel a.k. used under Creative Commons license. https://www.flickr.com/photos/kimonomania/

First, is the person you’re trying to find an adult?  Public records are generally going to be in the name of a homeowner, the person responsible for paying the bills, etc.  If a person is a minor or a young adult who is still financially dependent upon parents, then it is entirely possible that his or her information is not going to be part of the public record.

Even older adults may avoid having their information become public if they live with roommates, have utilities in other names, and use disposable phone services.  For younger people, the fact that they aren’t in the public record isn’t really a red flag; in many ways, it is to be expected.

However, for older people, a total lack of a public record can serve as its own red flag, especially if your introduction to that person came later in life.  While not impossible, it is somewhat rare for someone to entirely avoid having some information in the public record.

The next question to ask is whether the person is who they claim to be.  One reason that BeenVerified may be unable to locate the person that you’re seeking is that the person does not exist.  The person may be using an alias.

In other instances, the explanation may be far less nefarious.  The person may be shaving a few years off of a birthdate in order to appear younger or using a nickname.  If so, then a search using the known information may not return any results.  Expanding search parameters may help you find the information that you’re seeking.  Using BeenVerified’s People Search function with expanded possibilities for first name or date of birth might even help you narrow down the missing person.

Sometimes, you know the person’s identity is accurate, and you even know that there is some public information available about them, but it did not show up in a Background Check.  The easiest explanation for these omissions is that a BeenVerified Background Check is going to focus on material that has been digitized.  If it has not been digitized, then it’s not going to show up on a standard background check.

However, if you need access to documents that have not been digitized, BeenVerified offers a service that most on-line background check companies do not; real, live court-runners.  These court-runners can held down to courthouses or country clerk offices to search for records in person, giving you access to documents that have not yet been digitized, without requiring you to go to a courthouse in person.

Remember, if you ever have trouble finding what you’re looking for we are here to help.

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Don’t Fall in Love Until You Do This

 

Some people may say that running a background check on a potential date is the least romantic thing a person could do.  We absolutely disagree.  In fact, we can easily think of ten things that are less romantic than running a background check on a potential date:

  1. Going on a date with a married person who claims to be single.
  2. Falling in love with an imaginary person.
  3. A date with a history of sexual violence.
  4. A date with a history of domestic violence.
  5. Dating a deadbeat dad or deadbeat mom.
  6. Catfish.
  7. Finding out your spouse is on-line and trying to date other people.
  8. Dating someone who is only interested in your money or other resources.
  9. Going on a date only to be robbed or victimized.
  10. Finding out that single no kids, may be single, but has children out there.
Run a background check before going this far. Photo credit: Michael Coghlan, under Creative Commons license. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/

Run a background check before going this far. Photo credit: Michael Coghlan, under Creative Commons license. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/

Now, we realize that as long as people have been dating, people have been misrepresenting themselves to seem more attractive to others.  However, internet dating has offered up incredible opportunities for fraud because, unlike traditional dating scenarios, when people meet on the internet they rarely have a common group of friends or acquaintances that could help identify potential predators.  Instead, in on-line dating, many times people feel like they are left with only their judgment to determine whether someone is genuine or a fraud.

Fortunately, this is not true.  Using a service like BeenVerified, you can run a background check to find out information about a potential date.  Background checks can help avoid the top ten list of dating horrors found above.

BeenVerified’s background checks include information about marriages and divorces, and can help you identify whether someone is actually single.  Our search can also help you determine whether someone actually exists; while some people may have a minimal public record presence, few real people will have no public record.  BeenVerified’s Criminal Background checks can help reveal not just convictions for sexual assaults or domestic violence, but, in some circumstances, also arrests or charges for those crimes that did not lead to convictions.

BeenVerified’s search of public records can help you find out if a person has children, and, even if they are current in their obligations towards those children.  A background check that reveals a history of frauds or property offenses may be a red flag that a potential date is interested in your money, not in you as a person.

Finally, BeenVerified can help keep you from being “catfished.”  While catfishing schemes can vary, many of them involve appropriating others’ identities to create dating profiles.  If a background check reveals details that do not otherwise match what the potential partner has shared with you, it should serve as a red flag, not just for dishonesty, but also for a potential catfishing scheme.

Have you found dishonesty among your past online dates? Has BeenVerified helped you make a decision about a potential date, either positive or negative? Let us know in the comments section.

The Key to Repelling Unwanted Phone Calls

 

When so many of us rely upon our cell phones not just for calls, but for internet access, cameras, and entertainment, getting persistent calls from unknown numbers can feel more like an orchestrated invasion rather than just a mere nuisance.

We all hate receiving unwanted phone calls. Photo by Alon: http://www.flickr.com/people/photoloni/

We all hate receiving unwanted phone calls. Photo by Alon: http://www.flickr.com/people/photoloni/

This is especially true if you answer the call and find out that it’s someone you do not want to talk to: sales calls, someone trying to pull a phone scam, a crazy ex or a stalker, or even a bill collector.

By providing you with the name of the number’s owner, BeenVerified’s reverse phone lookup service can help you identify who is trying to reach you.  Once you know who is calling, you can decide if you want to talk to them.

Hate to get sales phone calls?  We do and we try to avoid them, but sometimes it seems like some companies just ignore the Do Not Call Registry.  What may be the most challenging part of a sales call is that many of us have been raised to be polite, rather than assertive, and many telemarketers are taught to take advantage of those good manners.  Knowing a phone call is a sales call can help you avoid sales calls in two ways: first, you can choose not to answer the call; second, you can contact the company and inform them that you are on the Do Not Call Registry and ask them not to call you.

Another type of phone call that can be more than a nuisance is the scam phone call.  There are a wide variety of scam phone calls, but they all basically involve trying to get financial information or money from you.

Five of the most frequent types of scam phone calls are: charities, legal, lotteries or sweepstakes, work from home, and false banking alerts.  Charity scams are calls where people represent themselves as legitimate charities seeking contributions, but the callers are either not linked to the charity they reference or the charity is a fraudulent one.  Legal scams threaten civil or criminal legal action unless you take certain steps.  Lottery scams say that you have won something, but ask for financial information to secure your winnings.  Work from home scams offer to provide training or job opportunities so that someone can work from home, but without any actual attached job.  Finally, false banking alerts suggest that one of your accounts has had fraudulent activity and asks for identifying financial information to remedy the problem.

Almost all of us have dealt with unwanted personal phone calls.  Many of us have probably experienced the ex who calls from different numbers in an effort to communicate.  Others of us have probably had strangers call from multiple numbers as well, in a persistent stalking pattern.  Using BeenVerified’s Reverse Phone Lookup  to identify who owns a number can not only help you decide whether to answer a call, but can also be an important way to help build up a record of stalking or harassment.

The final category of unwanted calls is debt collections.  There are some pretty basic rules outlining what type of behavior is legal for debt collectors, but many of us who have fallen behind in our obligations have experienced behavior from debt collectors that steps well outside of those legal boundaries.  Using BeenVerified’s Reverse Phone Lookup service may help you identify how to contact debt collectors to direct them to contact you in writing, rather than on the phone.

If you receive persistent calls from unknown numbers, get the information you need today.

Let us know if you have any questions in the comments section.

Working as a Product Manager at BeenVerified

 

Did you know that BeenVerified is hiring? Check out the interview below with our SEO Product Manager, Tony Aly, to get a sense of what working with us is like.

How would you describe your co-workers at BeenVerified? 

BV office 1

The BeenVerified Office.

I’ve worked at and with quite a few tech companies, and BeenVerified is by far one of the most congenial and familial companies I’ve ever seen. I think it’s an attitude that starts from the very top — Josh and
Ross
are caring, empathetic, and approachable.  This helps to define a
culture where no one is put in a silo and everyone feels like they’re part of a team that takes care of them.

What projects are you working on right now? What are you most excited about?

My role is as a Product Manager with a focus on SEO.  We’ve been
working on optimizing existing pages to make sure they’re all part of
a unified taxonomy and structure, and putting in a framework to allow us to quickly and efficiently deploy new, interesting and relevant content on a regular basis.

Name one new thing you have learned since you started working at BeenVerified? 

Ross and Josh have so many data connections, and they have shown me how connected that data world is.  BeenVerified provides access to some of the best data in the world, and this is not accidental — it’s
due to Ross and Josh constantly pounding the pavement to add new
sources to the database to continue to improve the product.

What one skill or ability would you say is most crucial for success
in your position? 

The break room.

The break room.

Communication.  It’s imperative that every person on the team has a robust sense of what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and what our status is.  We’re an Agile shop, which is very helpful in this regard. But, in addition, we also make sure to empower each team member to collaborate and communicate on an ongoing basis — especially when it comes to ideation.

What’s different about BeenVerified compared to other companies you have worked at?

The BeenVerified family is incredibly friendly and caring, and that shows in their work. Everyone is happy to be providing such a valuable service to the world, and they approach each day with cheer and dedication.

What are your personal interests outside of work?

I enjoy fishing, gardening, and landscaping.

For more on BeenVerified’s company culture check out our pages on LinkedIn and Pinterest

That Funny Feeling is Trying to Tell You Something

 

BeenVerified can be used for any number of purposes and that’s why we make running multiple searches quick and affordable. We never want you to have to ask if it’s “worth it” to run a background check, especially if you have that funny feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Use your intuitive mind.

Use your intuitive mind.

But what is that “funny feeling” exactly, and why should you listen to it?

Whether it happens with a new neighbor, someone who shares the carpool responsibilities for your kids or a new romantic interest, that funny feeling is trying to tell you something and you should listen to it.

The funny feeling is called intuition.

Numerous studies have validated the scientific grounding behind the use of intuition. On its most basic level, as Kelly Turner notes in a recent Psychology Today article, intuition works because it “operates from the part of our brain that developed at a time when hidden dangers could jump out at us at any moment – such as a tiger hiding behind bushes.” That is why you often subconsciously know the correct answer—or that the person you are dealing with may be hiding something—long before the actual facts appear.

Intuition can be triggered by any number of scenarios and is not foolproof. It can be less reliable when you are in unfamiliar environments. In situations where your intuition may be less reliable you should take an analytical approach, like the method described here in a Lifehacker article on how to tell when someone’s lying.

When you encounter someone who sets off that funny feeling, don’t ignore it. We have been conditioned as a society to rely solely on the rational, yet your intuition has an important role to play in keeping you out of trouble.

As Albert Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

When was the last time your intuition helped you in making a decision?