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1. Do not wait to meet them. News reports had Manti Te’o claiming to have “met” Lennay Kekua after a game and to have spent time with her in Hawaii. That never happened and in their press conference yesterday, Notre Dame reps say Te’o’s interactions with Kekua were conducted only online and the two never met in person. (Why Te’o lied about having met her in person remains to be seen.) But you can nip a “Catfish” situation in the bud by insisting on a meeting sooner rather than later. (I recommend this for online dating, too.) First and foremost, because it’s important to know if you have chemistry with someone in person, but also to confirm that they exist. Even if the person lives far away, arrange a meeting for as soon as possible. If that’s a far ways off, avoid getting in deep with the shmoopy stuff — texts, phone calls, emails — until you’ve met them.


2. Skype. The next best thing to an in-person meeting is a virtual in-person meeting. Sure, you can still get fleeced this way. It’s possible, but it requires a lot more effort, like producing a person that looks like the pictures you’ve seen online. If the person you’re getting to know makes excuses as to why a Skype session can’t happen, cut off contact … there’s something Catfish-y there.


3. Internet stalking. For once, use your internet stalking skills for good! If this person is real, they will have a virtual footprint you can track. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumblr. An article they wrote, a record of their college graduation, dammit, a MySpace from back in the day. For advanced internet stalking, there is a thing called reverse image search in Google. You can use that to find out if the picture on their Facebook profile exists other places. It’s pretty much the “tool” that the “Catfish” dudes use on their show. If the person you’re investigating has no internet presence, chances are something is up.


4. Look for red flags on social media. Once you’ve sufficiently stalked them, check their social media profiles with a fine tooth comb. Do they have multiple friends and followers? Do they have extensive photos in social situations? With family? On trips? By that I mean, do they only have head shots or modeling shots on their profile? Do they only have more than one regular commenter on Facebbok? You know what a normal social media profile looks like, so if you see anything “off,” take heed.


5. Verify. If peace of mind is what you’re looking for, you can call up their place of work or their former high school or college and pretend to be a potential employer doing a background check. This is actually easier than you think it would be. And if you’re really, really serious about verifying, you can get a background check online for like, $20, which is totally worth it if you’re thinking about getting involved with someone you’ve yet to meet in person.


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