As I am sure you know by now, Molly and I met online. We chatted on various message services of the day and after a while we moved to our first video call. Yahoo Instant Messenger as I recall was what we used. She was very shy and about to rush out the door in a puffy red coat hat and a scarf.
A few months later she asked if I would be willing to meet her. I said “of course” and she said, no, not for coffee but if I came to the US would you stay with me? At the time I was blase about it, but it really was a big deal. She was willing to take the chance to fly to another country and be together with a person she really only knew online. For all she knew I could be an axe murderer. Hell, for all I knew she might have been an axe murderer looking to go global!
Luckily (I hope) for her I was not, nor was she and we had a great time on her first trip. But alas, not everyone is as fortunate as Molly and I. You see I had a new client last week. They had found that someone has cloned their website and merely changed the name and contact info. They wanted to know if I could help get the site shutdown and maybe find out who was behind it. They were worried it was a competitor.
Always up for a challenge I said I would be happy to take on this job. 48 hours later the website was gone and I identified the person behind it. When I got back to my client he was thrilled and asked if I knew who did it and why. Oddly I did know the why. The person in question had created this site and three others to create a backstory for his dating profile. These sites were all stolen content from other real site with subtle differences.
The client was stunned. I wish I was. This is not my first experience with people online pretending to be something they really, really aren’t. Now I tend to be a trusting individual, but over the years I have learned through hard earned experience to trust, but verify. There are many people out there willing to go to extraordinary lengths to deceive for all kinds of reasons.
So while I am still very happy to tell people many things about myself and my life, you can be sure that I am much more wary than I once was.
You should be too. I want you to be safe.