When performing an online background check with Hero Searches, you may be unsure of the terminology that appears in the report results. Below, you will find a list of commonly used terms found within our reports that should help you understand exactly what you’re reading.

Public Records Glossary

Arrest Records

Closed handcuffs with keys
Arrest Records are a fundamental part of any background check

 

An arrest record documents an individual’s history of arrests by law enforcement, as well their suspected crimes. Unlike criminal records, arrest records only show the apprehension of the individual. The record does not indicate if they have been convicted of a specific crime or not. However, it reveals the time and location of the arrest, biographical information, criminal classification, monetary restitution, incarceration, and pending litigation.

What Types Of Suspected Crimes Are Available On An Arrest Record?

Who Can Make Arrests?

Arson

Massive fire started by an arsonist
Being convicted of arson is a serious offense and can carry a lengthy jail sentence with it

 

Arson refers to the intentional burning down of any property. Although it was once used to only specify houses and other residences, the definition now encompasses all properties, such as buildings, structures, vehicles, and forests. Depending on the state where the crime takes place, the punishment may vary. For example, the state of New York has five degrees of arson, while most other states follow three degrees of arson. If any federal property is damaged in the fire, it becomes a federal crime, with a sentencing of up to 20 years in jail. That sentence can be increased to up to 40 years if someone was injured as a result of the crime.

The Two Elements Of Arson

The Three Degrees Of Arson

Background Check

Two people using an online background check service
A background check can be used to identify any potential red flags in an individual’s past.

 

A background check is created through research and the evaluation of an individual’s public records. This makes their history available to whoever requested the background check. The information included can vary depending on the type of background check. Typically, background checks are performed for personal safety reasons. Information and results found on Hero Searches shall not be used for employment purposes, illegal activities, credit eligibility, or any other purpose outlined in our Terms of Use.

The Three Types Of Background Checks

What Public Records Do Background Checks Include?

Burglary

Burglar breaking into a house
Burglary is the act of illegally entering a building with the intent to commit a crime

 

Burglary is defined by an individual trespassing into a building or structure, with the intent to commit a crime, such as theft. While similar to robbery, burglary does not require force or intimidation tactics, as the criminal aims to go undetected. The victim is often not present at the time of the crime. In addition, the crime does not need to be committed successfully to be determined as a burglary. Even if nothing is stolen, it is considered burglary if the criminal broke in and entered with the intent to steal.

The Elements Of Burglary

Criminal Record

Handcuffs lying on top of a criminal record
Criminal records are commonly used in background checks to assess a person’s integrity

 

A criminal record is a public compilation of an individual’s criminal history. While an arrest record only shows information about their arrests, a criminal record includes the crimes actually committed by the individual. These include both misdemeanors and felonies. Criminal records are commonly used for background checks and security clearance for employment, travel, adoption, housing, the purchase of firearms, loans, and more. However, criminal records are also utilized by authorities for identification and tracking purposes.

Where Does Criminal Record Information Come From?

Domestic Violence

An act of domestic violence between a husband and wife
Domestic Violence commonly involves family or household members

 

Domestic violence is characterized as an individual showing violent and/or abusive behavior towards another person in a domestic setting. Common victims include married couples and families with children. Because these charges may show up on public records, individuals can discover if their partner has previously been guilty of domestic violence. This allows them to stay safe and take the appropriate measures to end the relationship if needed.

Types Of Domestic Violence

Embezzlement

Business man in a suit embezzling money
Embezzlement is a specific type of fraud that most commonly occurs in the workplace

 

Embezzlement is defined by the theft or misrepresentation of a company’s property, funds, or assets. While typically viewed as involving employers and employees, embezzlement can apply to governments and spouses as well. Typical methods of embezzlement include undercharging, payroll fraud, stealing money and/or office supplies, and fake loans. Depending on the details and severity of the crime, it can either be a misdemeanor or a felony.

The Elements Of Embezzlement

Felonies

Gavel sitting on top of a stack of papers labeled felony
A felony is one of two broad categories used to denote the seriousness of a crime

 

In the United States, there are two broad categories for crimes. The first is “misdemeanors,” which are classified as crimes that carry a maximum sentence of up to 12 months jail time. This category is reserved for lesser crimes. On the other hand, the second classification of crimes are referred to as “felonies.” Unlike misdemeanors, crimes in this category are much more serious. As such, they carry a minimum sentence of 12 months jail time. In most countries outside the United States, the felony category is reserved for very serious crimes. Furthermore, felonies can be further differentiated into the subcategories “violent” and “nonviolent.”

What Types Of Crimes Would Be Considered Felonies?

Since any crime with a sentence longer than twelve months of jail time is referred to as a felony, it stands to reason that many different crimes could be categorized in this way. That being said, there are some crimes that are so severe that they are always categorized as felonies. These crimes include:

Fraud

Man practicing fraudulent behavior
Fraud encompasses any behavior that involves the deception of another in order to benefit from that deception

 

Fraud is defined as the act of deceiving another person through false pretenses in order to take from them something of significant value. This can be anything from a physical item to a legal right. In today’s world, there are many different types of fraud. From ponzi/pyramid schemes to identity theft and credit card fraud, there are many different ways an individual could participate in fraudulent behavior. In addition to this, fraud often goes undetected because the victim is unaware of the situation until it’s too late.

What Are Some Of The Warning Signs Of Fraud?

Since most fraudulent activities rely on the victim being completely unaware of the perpetrator’s motives, it can be somewhat difficult in most cases to identify a fraudulent scheme. That being said, there are some warning signs to look for if you suspect fraudulent behavior.

Kidnapping

Children’s toys leftover on a table after a kidnapping
Kidnapping refers to the abduction of another person against their will

 

Kidnapping is defined as the unlawful taking of another individual without said individual’s expressed consent. In the event that the individual is a minor, the guardian’s consent would be required, even if the minor has already expressed their own.

First-Degree Kidnapping Vs. Second-Degree Kidnapping

Like many other crimes in the United States, kidnapping is defined in terms of degrees. In this case, there are several factors that would differentiate a first-degree kidnapping from a second-degree kidnapping.

First-Degree Kidnapping

Second-Degree Kidnapping

Lawsuits

Row of books containing lawsuit cases
A lawsuit involves a dispute between two parties in a court of law

 

A lawsuit typically consists of one party (the plaintiff) suing another party (the defendant) for some unlawful act that resulted in a loss on behalf of the suing party. In terms of lawsuits, a party does not have to involve a group of people. Individuals, government agencies, and businesses are all considered to be parties in a court of law.

Common Types Of Lawsuits

Larceny

A thief commits larceny by stealing from a woman’s bag
Larceny is a type of thievery that does not involve violence of any kind

 

Larceny, also referred to as theft in some areas, describes an individual’s unlawful taking of another’s personal goods or property with no intent of returning it to the rightful owner. One key factor that differentiates larceny from other similar crimes, such as robbery, is the fact that larceny does not account for violence or the threat of violence.

Grand Larceny Vs. Petty Larceny

A charge of larceny is usually broken up into two distinct categories; grand larceny and petty larceny. As their names suggest, the difference between these two classifications of larceny is in the amount stolen. If an individual’s actions constitute a charge of larceny and the value of the items stolen is greater than $500, then a charge of grand larceny will be given. On the other hand, if the value of the items stolen is less than $500, then a charge of petty larceny will be imposed instead.

Manslaughter

Vehicular manslaughter scene behind police tape
Manslaughter involves the killing of another without malicious intent

 

Manslaughter refers to the unlawful killing of another person without the premeditation or malice associated with homicide and murder. A sentence of manslaughter usually carries a lesser punishment when compared to similar crimes that result in loss of life, such as the aforementioned homicide and murder.

Voluntary Manslaughter Vs. Involuntary Manslaughter

There are two separate classifications of manslaughter: voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is the more severe crime of the two and is most similar to other first-degree offenses. A voluntary manslaughter sentence means that the perpetrator intentionally took the life of the victim in a heat of passion or under provocation. An involuntary manslaughter sentence on the other hand is generally regarded as a second- or even third- degree offense. A sentencing of this nature means the loss of life was non-intentional, most commonly due to negligence or an accident.

Misdemeanors

Gavel sitting on top of a stack of papers labeled misdemeanor
A misdemeanor is the second of two broad categories used to denote the seriousness of a crime

 

A misdemeanor refers to a crime that is less serious than a felony and thus results in less of a punishment. The amount of jail time associated with a misdemeanor is less than 12 months, and in some cases, jail time can even be avoided in favor of a fine. Misdemeanors are broken down into three separate categories based on severity:

A gross misdemeanor’s sentence comes with a minimum of six months jail time, an ordinary misdemeanor comes with a jail time of 30 days to six months, while a petty misdemeanor comes with either a fine or less than 30 days of jail time.

Murder

Murder weapon at the scene of the crime
Murder is universally considered one of the most serious crimes a person can commit

 

Murder refers to the premeditated killing of another individual. In just about all countries, including the United States, murder is considered one of the most serious crimes, and as such, comes with the most severe punishments. It’s not uncommon for an individual convicted of murder to receive a life sentence, or in regions that support it, the death penalty. A murder sentence is commonly broken down into two categories:

First-degree murder is defined as the killing of an individual with premeditation. This means that the perpetrator planned on killing the individual. Second-degree murder, on the other hand, is somewhat similar to voluntary manslaughter, given that the perpetrator did not plan on killing the individual but did intend to in the heat of the moment or after provocation. Second-degree murder comes with a more lenient sentence when compared to first-degree murder, however, the punishment is still severe in most cases.

Prostitution

Prostitute accepting cash for her services
Despite being illegal in almost every state, prostitution continues to be an issue in the United States

 

Prostitution is defined as the act of performing sexual favors in exchange for money. It is illegal in 49 of the 50 states within the United States, except for Nevada (where it is strictly regulated). There are several layers and elements to prostitution, but it is typically considered a misdemeanor. Other crimes such as human trafficking, pimping, operating unlicensed brothels, and exploiting minors are punishable by law at a higher degree.

What Are The Different Elements Of Prostitution?

Public Records

Public records being kept in a storage facility
Public records are generally kept by government agencies to help facilitate public programs

 

Public records are any non-confidential files created by government officials that are allowed to be accessed, inspected, analyzed, and accessed by any person. All of the information accumulated by Hero Searches and delivered in purchased reports is in compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which enables individuals to access certain local, state, and federal documents and records.

Types Of Records Available And Accessible To The Public

Robbery

Car robbery in progress
Robbery differs from other forms of thievery due to it’s reliance on violence or threat of violence

 

Whereas burglary is not necessarily violent or forceful in nature, robbery, on the other hand, is. When you hear the word, you may think of or visualize a bank robbery. However, that is not always the case, and robberies can occur even when people are not directly involved in the theft. Although it is considered a violent crime, a weapon is not required to categorize a crime as a robbery.

If Any Of The Following Tactics Are Involved, A Crime May Be Deemed A Robbery In The Eyes Of The Law

Sexual Offenses

Types of sexual offenses include, rape, abuse, harassment, and incest.
Sexual offenses covers a variety of different crimes that are sexual in nature

 

Sexual offenses range in severity and type, but are considered a serious and severe crime. They will last on a person’s record and in the sexual offender database for a lifetime. These offenses entail sexual misconduct, oftentimes by inappropriate conduct or lack of consent, and are prohibited by law on a state level, as well as a federal level.

What Are Some Examples Of Sexual Offenses?

Suspicion

Police officer arresting a suspicious individual
For an individual to be a suspect, there must be reasonable suspicion surrounding that individual

 

Suspicion, or “reasonable suspicion,” is a Supreme Court standard which involves detaining or investigating somebody who is considered a suspect of a crime (not to be confused with probable cause). If somebody is considered a suspect, this means that an officer or government official believes he or she meets the requirements of “suspicious activity.” This means that he or she appears as a threat and/or has committed, is about to commit, or will commit a crime -- but this must come with rational and factual evidence.

What Constitutes Suspicion?

Traffic Violations

A cop writing a ticket for a traffic violation
Traffic violations cover a variety of vehicle related crimes

 

A traffic violation occurs when a driver of a vehicle violates one or more of a state’s traffic laws. Traffic violations are divided into two different categories: moving violations and non-moving violations. Moving violations occur while the vehicle is in motion, whereas a non-moving violation occurs when the vehicle is not. Moving violations are more serious offenses than non-moving violations in most cases.

What Are Examples Of Moving Violations?

What Are Examples Of Non-Moving Violations?

Vandalism

Teenager vandalizing public property
Vandalism refers to any act that causes deliberate damage to any property

 

Vandalism is the act of destroying, damaging, or defacing somebody else’s public or private property. The most popular form of vandalism is graffiti, which entails writing or drawing on surfaces (such as walls or dumpsters) with spray paint, markers, paint, or other materials. Although this may be the most common, vandalism comes in many acts and forms, and can be committed by people of all ages.

What Are Some Other Examples Of Vandalism?

General Glossary

Acquittal

Open handcuffs on a black background
Acquittal refers a situation in which an individual is found not guilty of a crime

 

An individual is acquitted when, in the eyes of the law, they are released from the charges against them. The declaration of “not guilty,” determining that they are innocent, precedes the acquittal. However, “not guilty” does not always result in an acquittal, as the individual may be found guilty of other charges in the same case.

Advance-Fee / 419 Scam

Case of money from an advance-fee or 419 scam
An advance-fee or 419 scam is an attempt to defraud another individual by first gaining their trust

 

In an advance-fee scam, the scammer usually promises the victim a large sum of money, such as a portion of lottery winnings or an inheritance. This is in exchange for a small initial payment, which the scammer tries to pass off as a one-time fee. In almost every case, the victim never hears from the scammer again and doesn’t receive the reward they were promised. One common variant of this scam happens to be the 419 scam. This is where a scammer will claim that a large sum of money needs to be transferred out of Nigeria, either from the government or a private bank account. The victim can receive a percentage of this money, if they pay an up-front fee. Just like other advance-fee scams, the victim never sees this reward.

How Do These Scammers Contact Their Victims?

Animal Cruelty

A dog and cat lying next to each other
Animal cruelty involves an individual harming an innocent animal, either intentionally or unintentionally

 

Animal cruelty encompasses both the intentional and unintentional (neglect) harming of animals by humans. Examples include purposely hurting animals for entertainment purposes, cruel methods of slaughter, killing animals for their fur, and neglecting animals in breeding facilities. The Animal Welfare Act of 1966 is the only federal law that governs how animals are treated. In addition, many states have their own anti-cruelty laws. Depending on the state, animal cruelty can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Examples Of Animal Welfare Issues

“Can You Hear Me?” Scam

A woman receiving a “can you hear me” scam call
The “can you hear me” scam involves an unsolicited caller attempting to get you to say “yes” over the phone

 

A “can you hear me?” scam is a phone call initiated by a chatbot, simply asking, “Can you hear me?” The scammer behind the chatbot will be recording the call. If the victim answers “yes,” the scammer will use that recording to authorize charges under their name. Usually, the scammer already has the victim’s financial information before they make the call.

How To Avoid Falling For This Scam

Counterfeit Websites

Counterfeit definition in a dictionary
Counterfeit websites mimic legitimate websites to steal your money or credit card information

 

The Internet has opened up a multitude of doors for online communication and shopping. Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who want to take advantage of that. Counterfeit websites are sites run by scammers that are created to look exactly like an existing site. They trick people into making their purchases on them instead of the legitimate ones. The victims then either have their money stolen or receive fake goods in the mail.

How To Tell If A Website Is Counterfeit

Free Vacation Scam

Postcard attached to a free vacation scam
Free vacation scams are very common and can happen over the phone, by email, or through standard mail.

 

Have you ever received an automated phone call saying that you’ve won a free vacation? In this day and age, it’s all too common of an occurrence. Scammers use this tactic to lure their victims in, and then ask them to pay a one-time fee or tax (usually $200-$300) to receive their vacation. Of course, the victim never receives their prize and or their money back. Some variations of this scam include attending a live presentation, where the victim is presented with vacation or timeshare packages that most likely don’t even exist.

How Can They Contact You?

Human Trafficking

Hands bound in rope awaiting human trafficking
Human trafficking is the act of exchanging an individual for a good or service

 

Human trafficking is defined as a modern form of slavery. It involves the trade and sale of humans, both within a country and internationally. Most commonly, human trafficking involves sexual slavery or forced labor. The victim also does not necessarily have to be moved from place to place. In the United States, Atlanta, GA is considered to be the largest hub for human trafficking. This is due to the size of the city itself, as well as its airport. Although human trafficking is a federal crime, most states have established their own laws to prevent it from happening within their borders.

Common Types Of Human Trafficking

Identity Theft

Computer hacker attempting identity theft
Identity theft is a common crime committed over the internet

 

Identity theft is the wrongful obtainment and use of another individual’s identity, data, or assets. Most commonly, this crime is committed for economic gain or other similar benefits. Criminals can obtain someone’s personal information by “shoulder surfing,” which is watching the victim put in their PIN number or listening in on their phone conversations. They can also take their data from discarded snail mail, scam emails, spyware, and other methods.

How To Avoid Identity Theft

Internet Fraud

Internet fraud taking place on a tablet
Internet fraud covers a variety of different cyber crimes

 

Internet fraud is a blanket term used to describe various forms of fraud on the Internet, including but not limited to spam emails, online scams, data breaches, malware/ransomware, and phishing. According to the FBI, Internet fraud tactics successfully steal millions of dollars every year from unsuspecting victims.

Examples Of Online Scams

IRS Scam

Tools used to perform an IRS scam
An IRS Scam is an attempt to steal money from an individual by claiming to be an IRS agent

 

IRS scams are performed by scammers who impersonate IRS agents, either by phone, fax, email, or regular mail. These scammers strike fear into the hearts of their victims with threats of lawsuits, police arrests, deportation, and more if they do not immediately pay the tax amount they “owe.” In such a panicked state, victims willingly pay the exorbitant amount that’s requested. More often than not, the scammer requests that the fee is paid by wire transfer, prepaid debit cards, money order, or iTunes gift cards. These are all signs that they are not actually with the IRS.

How To Protect Yourself From IRS Scams

iTunes Gift Card Scam

Headphones using iTunes
iTunes Gift Cards are commonly used by scammers to steal money that cannot be traced

 

Numerous scams involve victims paying over the phone for phony taxes, family emergencies, bail, various bills, and more with iTunes gift cards. These gift cards are untraceable and work almost the same as cash, making them ideal for scammers. When the victim reads the 16-digit code on the back of the gift card over the phone, the scammer immediately drains the amount of money that was loaded onto it. This can leave the victim out of thousands of dollars. Unless you’re looking to purchase something from Apple’s online stores, there is no need to purchase an iTunes gift card.

What An iTunes Gift Card Can Be Used For

Money Order / Wire Transfer Scam

Close up of a money order
Money order and wire transfer scams are commonly occurs when attempting to buy or sell an item online

 

While money orders and wire transfers are legitimate forms of sending money, scammers have taken advantage of them. They use these methods to send fake money orders and receive wired funds from the victims they trick.

Money Order Scam

If an individual is selling an item online, sometimes a scammer will send them a money order for the amount. This money order can either be fake or written for an excess amount, which the seller will be told to refund or send to someone in another country. Even if the money order is successfully deposited and the victim withdraws the money, that’s not the end of it. It can take several weeks to process a money order, and if it turns out to be fake, the bank will subtract the amount from the victim’s bank account.

Wire Transfer Scam

Western Union and MoneyGram allow people to send money quickly and efficiently. However, when wiring money, unlike using a purchase protection service such as PayPal, there’s no way to obtain a refund. Once the money is wired, there’s no way to get it back. Scammers use fake job, apartment/home, and classified ad listings to lure victims into wiring them money. Often, they ask for a fee or tax that needs to be wired to them. In some cases, a scammer will pose as a buyer and send a counterfeit check for a larger amount than the transaction total. They will then ask for the victim to send the difference via wire transfer.

How to Avoid Falling For Money Order And Wire Transfer Scams

Online Shopping Scams

Credit card being used for online shopping
Online shopping scams are commonly used on auction sites such as eBay and Craigslist

 

The popularity of online shopping continues to grow every year, so it’s no wonder that scammers see it as an easy way to steal. They use avenues such as eBay, Craigslist, and Amazon’s marketplace to take advantage of unsuspecting buyers and sellers. Some scammers will purchase and receive items, then tell the seller that they never got them in the mail. Other scammers will sell their items online and never send them out, or might even just mail out an empty box. They can also threaten to blackmail their victims if they don’t leave positive feedback for them.

How To Stay Safe While Shopping Online

Phishing

Phishing scammer hiding their face behind a hood
Phishing scams are commonly used online to steal others personal information

 

A phishing scam is an attempt to trick someone into giving up their personal information, such as passwords or credit card/bank account numbers. Phishers accomplish this by pretending to be from reputable companies or organizations. The most common phishing scam is where the scammer sends their victim an email or a text message from a source that looks legitimate, such as Google or Microsoft, and asks them to send them money, personal information, or to click on a link. If they follow the link, they will be sent to a fake page with malicious software on it that will steal their information or potentially lock them out of their computer until they pay a ransom.

Ways To Spot A Potential Phishing Scam

Postal Fraud

Postal fraud uses the mail service to scam individuals
While postal fraud is less common thanks to the popularity of email, it still accounts for a significant amount of fraud in the United States

 

Postal fraud is a type of scam that uses the postal system to defraud another individual out of their money, property, or personal information. While the amount of scammers using the postal system has certainly gone down due to the popularity and efficiency of emailing, one could argue that this makes postal fraud even more dangerous than it was before. This is because the vast majority of government agencies use the postal system as a first point of contact. Knowing this, in addition to the decreasing popularity of postal scams, a potential scammer could pose as a government agency and trick an unsuspecting victim into sending them personal information.

How To Identify Fraudulent Mail

Tech Support Scam

Phone being used for a tech support scam
Tech support scammers attempt to gain access to a victim’s computer by posing as the help center of a popular company

 

One of the most common scams out there, the tech support scam targets people who aren’t particularly well-versed in technology. It’s characterized by cold calls made to victims, where the scammer poses as a member of a company’s tech support department, typically Microsoft or Apple. The scammer then goes on to say that they’ve detected a virus or some other problem with one of the victim’s electronic devices. When the victim allows them remote access to their computer, the scammer will use the opportunity to steal their personal data and credit card information. Following this, they may ask the victim to pay for an “antivirus software,” which is really just malware that will infect their computer and collect their information.

How To Protect Yourself From Tech Support Scams

Online Dating Glossary

Blackmail / Sextortion

Blackmail definition in the dictionary
Blackmail entails one individual threatening to release sensitive information about another unless they are compensated

 

Generally, blackmail is an act where a criminal threatens their victim, usually with exposing their personal information, until a certain demand is met. This demand is either for a gain for the criminal or a loss for the victim. While extortion involves obtaining property or money from a victim through coercion, blackmail specifically threatens them with revealing information they’d rather keep secret.

In recent years, with the rise of online dating, sextortion has become prominent. Sextortion is a type of sexual exploitation where the criminal aims to acquire financial or sexual favors from their victim. This includes asking for compromising photos, then threatening to post them on social media if the victim does not give them money. Afraid to damage their reputation, many victims give in and send the money to their sextortionist.

How To Deal With Threats Of Blackmail And Sextortion

Catfishing

A man with a mask holds out a rose
Catfishing involves creating a fake online persona with the intent to use it on unsuspecting victims

 

A term originally coined in the 2010 documentary Catfish, catfishing is the act of creating a fake social media profile or online persona for the purpose of tricking someone else. These online identities usually include photos that are stolen from actual social media profiles, as well as fabricated personal information. One common reason why people choose to catfish others is because they wish they had their persona’s confidence and good qualities. Meanwhile, other people do it because they think it’s fun to trick potential partners. Catfishing can also occur in an online dating / romance scam, where the scammer assumes a fake persona to steal money from their chosen victim(s).

How To Tell If You’re Being Catfished

Gaslighting

Man gaslighting his significant other
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation commonly used in relationships

 

Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic that someone will use in a relationship to make their partner question their own perception and recollection of events. They accomplish this through lying, downplaying their partner’s feelings, and deception. The gaslighter’s goal is to make their partner feel unstable, insecure, and ultimately more dependent on them. In online dating, gaslighting can occur in more than just legitimate relationships. A scammer can use this kind of manipulation in a romance scam, all so they can steal money from their victims.

The Signs Of Gaslighting

Love Bombing

A love bomb about to go off
The term love bombing describes a form of manipulation often used in new relationships

 

Love bombing is used by manipulators to initially shower their victim with affection for the purpose of influencing them later on. This includes constant phone calls and texts, frequent visits, and numerous presents in a short period of time. This phase disappears just as quickly as it came. Love bombers then use their victim’s easily earned affection and trust to control them and their actions. Romance scammers often use love bombing so their victims will be more than willing to give them money for any fake, tragic story they create.

How To Avoid Being Love Bombed

Marriage and Divorce Records

Image of a marriage
The availability of marriage/divorce records vary on a state by state basis

 

Marriage and divorce records are not always designated as public records. Some states allow them to either be marked as confidential or public. However, when you’re thinking about a serious relationship with someone you met on a dating website, it’s worthwhile to look into these records. The person on the other end could be lying, either outright or by omission, about their marital or relationship status.

Possible Signs That Your Online Date Is Married

Medical Emergency Scam

Medical emergency room
A medical emergency scam aims to play on the emotions of the victim by pretending to be a loved one in need

 

Scammers often pose as other people, but in a medical emergency scam, they pretend to be the victim’s relative, friend, or other loved one. They’re able to pull off the scam by learning about the victim’s loved one from social media or even hacking their email account. The scammer uses this information to claim that they’ve experienced some sort of emergency, like a car accident, and need money as soon as possible. Because they’re panicking and worried about their “loved one,” the victim quickly sends over the requested amount of money. These scams can be conducted over the phone, email, or social media.

What To Do If You Receive A Suspicious Call Or Email From A Loved One

Online Dating Scam / Romance Scam

An online dating scam is sometimes referred to as a romance scam
An online dating scam refers to someone who plays on the emotions of another in order to benefit financially

 

While most people use dating websites to find love, scammers use them to look for their next victim. First, they create fake profiles on popular sites such as Tinder and OKCupid. These profiles often use stolen pictures. Then, when they’re successfully matched with someone, they do everything they can to earn their victim’s trust, affection, and intimacy. After some time, usually a few weeks, the criminal starts asking for financial favors with fabricated stories. These stories can range from medical emergencies to being stranded at an airport in a foreign country. Because the victim has come to trust their “lover” at this point, they’re often more than willing to send over the money.

Signs To Recognize In A Romance Scam

Reverse Image Search

Man using a reverse image search to find a picture online
A reverse image search is a great way to confirm the identity of someone you met online

 

A reverse image search is a quick and helpful way to confirm an online stranger’s identity. Too many people out there use fake photos, or ones of other people, on their dating website profiles. Fortunately, Google Images and TinEye are both search engines you can use to find the actual source of someone’s photo.

Results From A Reverse Image Search