Online Dating

The Manti Te’o Story: How Can You Avoid Getting Duped Online?

Julie Spira

Written by: Julie Spira

Julie Spira

Julie Spira is a leading online dating expert and founder of She’s the bestselling author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating and creates irresistible profiles for singles.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles and reports have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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If you’ve been following the Manti Te’o story, you’re probably wondering how the Heisman Trophy runner-up could have been duped in an Internet dating hoax.

When the story broke on Wednesday, I was attending the Internet Dating Conference. My phone rang for several days with questions from both the media and online daters asking how such a thing could happen.

Was it a hoax, or was he in on it? How can someone who didn’t exist actually die? Why didn’t they ever meet in person?

All eyes on Te’o.

USA Today reports Katie Couric will air her exclusive interview with Te’o on her talk show Thursday. I have a feeling all eyes will be watching.

The story is continuing to unfold with those who committed the hoax coming forward.

It can happen to anyone.

First of all, anyone, whether a celebrity or the girl or boy next door, can easily feel like they’ve fallen in love with someone they haven’t met before.

Romantic fantasies can be easily build up when your online connection promises you a happily ever after.

Second, understanding the shame and embarrassment when you find out your online crush isn’t who he or she says they are is normal.

Your dreams can become shattered as fast as pushing the send button or sending a text message. You may not want to tell your friends and family you’ve been duped.

Third, follow these tips I shared with Men’s Health with signs you might be “Catfished.”

  1. Your date refuses to do a video chat.
  2. Your online crush is quick to say, “I love you.”
  3. Your digital love is only available to chat late at night
  4. A series of emergencies prevents you from meeting in person
  5. Your date’s photos seem model-perfect

If your online love refuses to take your relationship from online to offline, it’s a red flag.

Otherwise, you’re just a “digital pen pal” and you shouldn’t be quick to change your status on Facebook to “In a Relationship.”

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