Everyone tells a little white lie once in a while – go on, admit it! You know your co-worker looks hideous in that new red sweater but you still smile and say ‘Looks great!’ when they twirl and ask you what you think of their latest purchase.
Sometimes the lies are a little bigger – for example, on a dating site someone might say they’re tall, dark and handsome and when you finally meet up, you realise that their definition of tall is just over five foot; dark is because they’ve not washed for a week and the grime’s really built up and, well – handsome? They’ve taken the other meaning to apply to them – as in ‘large’, ‘big’ or ‘ample’ and their girth is probably more than their height.
The real lies though come from those who are scammers on dating websites. The ones who trot out the templates professing love, their amazing personalities and their wonderful but sad lives crossing continents with foreign parents and exotic work prospects in a vain attempt to get you to part with your money.
It can be so easy to be sucked in by their declarations of love, their intense words of honesty and poems about the moon and stars that you may not notice that little things don’t add up. Everything’s wonderful as you respond to their kindness, their flattery and their melodramatic outpourings. As long as you keep responding in the way that they expect, it’s working for them.
If you really want to find out if someone is actually genuine though, try and have a proper conversation with them. Notice how many times they ignore a direct question or keep it vague with twisting it back to focus on you. It’s all about you, baby! Nothing else matters – just how much they love you and you’re destined to be together forever. It was so meant to be!
So it’s extremely funny then, when they’re grilled on their lives and you don’t let it go. Make them squirm! It can take many attempts of asking the same question – I’ve counted seven repeated requests to answer one particular question with one ‘lovely’ man who was quite happy to expand on his love of skipping along a beach but couldn’t give the names of his dogs.
You would think, wouldn’t you, that someone who has photos of him hugging a boxer dog and a black Labrador pup in his profile photos would know what his dogs are called. He was first pulled up on the breeds. He was quizzed as to what breeds they were (we knew, did he?) and what their names were.
Right. He doesn’t know his breeds. So we go back: “thats nice, one of the dogs in your pics looks like a boxer? is that not yours?”
He goes silent for ages and then tries to deflect it. “i hope that i will be the one u will grow with … here i am ..please take my hands”
Completely ignoring his flattery tactic, we try again: “so whose boxer is that in the photo? do you have photo of your Doberman?”
“I don’t have the picture of my doberman”.
So he ‘has dogs’ but doesn’t have a picture of his own dogs? Of course he doesn’t. One quick reverse image search and the same two photos crop up on other sites with other user names. It’s a standard stolen set of photos. Unfortunately his back story hasn’t been filled in (he’s hoping to stay ‘on script’) so he has no idea what a boxer looks like and makes up a random couple of breeds. We ask why he doesn’t have photos of his own dogs, what are they called (again) and what type of terrier does he have?
He goes silent for ages and then bam! “sorry i was busy arranging my things for an overseas trip ..”
He still hasn’t answered the question. So we suggest meeting up before he goes away. His profile says he’s in Watford. We ask where we can meet up, mentioning some places in Watford he should know if he really lived there. He goes silent again for ages and then comes back with some gibberish: “i am living in elme heastead”.
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There’s no such place in the world. He could mean Hemel Hempstead but he’s obviously had far too many sherries to be able to spell it correctly. We don’t get anywhere with his lack of knowledge of his home town so revert back to our favourite subject – his dogs! Apparently his elderly neighbour is looking after his dogs while he’s off on his ‘business trip’. We ask again what the dogs are called… no reply. We ask what type of terrier it is (again). Silence for ages and for the first time he’s discovered capital letters which shows he’s obviously just copy pasted a terrier breed: “Jack Russell Terrier”.
We pull him up on this, stating that the black lab in the photo is not a JRT. He’s getting uncomfortable now “sounds u are dog breeder … i like the fact that u love dogs”. Quick, question her back and bung a bit of flattery in there! We’re not a dog breeder, obviously, we just know what certain ones look like! When he’s quizzed about the black lab pup not being a terrier, he randomly panics and writes more complete gibberish: “it is cross bread of terrier and husky”.
The dog is certainly not any of those breeds. We leave it at that because he obviously has no idea what he’s talking about and go back to his ‘own dogs’. We ask why doesn’t he have his own dogs in the photos and again, ask what his dogs are called… and again… and again. He ignores the question repeatedly, going silent.
We turn the tables on him and copy the scammer’s normal tactic of ‘if something isn’t going their way – doubt the other’s true love, how can you betray me with lies about (x) – (in this case his dogs), he’s broken our heart by his untruths etc. etc.’. Get melodramatic, it’s what they understand. We didn’t say we’d ‘leave him’ but he finally comes back with: “i am back babe … i am honest with you and why would use dogs issue as pretense to leave me”.
After seven requests for their names and a lot of time later, he finally responds! “their name …one i named him Agento and the other one Scarto”.
Wow! He finally managed to find ‘two animal names’ on a search engine! Well done! He’s taken them from the film Gladiator. He has no idea though that the one named ‘Scarto’ is not something you’d want to shout out in an Italian dog park. It means ‘scrap’ or ‘waste’.
Now, this was just one conversation with someone who allegedly had dogs and lived in Watford (or maybe that other drunkenly spelled place). Why did it have to be so difficult to get any accurate information out of him? If the person at the other end of the line was a true dog owner they would be his own photos. He would know what their breeds were and he would know their names without having to be asked multiple times like it was something unusual to name your dogs. It would have been done and dusted in two sentences maximum probably, rather than the blood out of a stone situation. He most certainly should have known places in his own home town. If you end up having a conversation with someone that is so much effort like this one, he’s going to be a fake.
Other ridiculous lies they spout when pressed repeatedly have been entire descriptions of their home copy pasted from a holiday apartment booking website. Word for word. Including the sales pitch which sounds completely unnatural in normal email conversations. Or how about the Italian who couldn’t write a word of his own mother tongue but insisted that Italian was his first language?
If things don’t add up, if they don’t know anything about where they live or they take ages to reply and, when they do it looks like a copy paste job, it’s definitely time to either walk away, or have a little fun and keep badgering them until they crack. See what kind of rubbish they make up. Really push them until they panic and they have to do a half-hearted search online for something to back up their fake life. See how outrageously inaccurate they can be, have a little giggle at their expense and then move on and find a genuine partner online. That man who really does have a boxer dog called Fred is out there somewhere – and he’ll tell you all about him right away while sorting out a time to meet at that new little bar in his home town. Good luck!