Don't be Duped by False Personalities (video)

By Eric DeFreeuw

January 17, 2013 Updated Jan 17, 2013 at 10:32 PM EST

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) - If this Manti Te'o saga has taught us anything, it's that we need to be more cautious about who we are, or think we are interacting with online. Unfortunately hoaxes like this do happen more than we may think.

When the news broke Wednesday that the heart wrenching story of the death of Te’o’s girlfriend was fake, it was shocking largely in part to Te'o's celebrity status. But realistically this happens every day to average Americans.

It is just as easy for anybody to make their own Facebook or Twitter page as it is to make a fake page posing as someone else. With Facebook’s current privacy settings all that is needed to make a page is a name, an e-mail address, and a story to go along with it.

"If somebody really wanted to create a fake ID, a fake person if you will on Facebook or Twitter, all it takes is a believable story,” John Kaufeld, in charge of online marketing at IPFW says, “because we want to believe. That's kind of how we're trained."

A number of skeptics wondered how somebody like Te'o could be duped into a relationship like this for over a year, but Kaufeld added it’s not terribly difficult to pull this off if the conditions are just right.

"As long as they keep the same storyline going, as long as they keep their dates straight, as long as they keep their story level, then what would they have to be doubted about?"

In a way this is how all scams work. Predators rely on our caring nature as humans and then extort it to their advantage. Because of this, Kaufeld warns those in online relationships to "keep your eyes open and be aware of the possibility" of a hoax.

Realistically, however, there is no way to completely protect yourself from fraud without becoming borderline paranoid.




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