Digital-dating: dangers and warning signs - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Digital-dating: dangers and warning signs

By: Megan Palera

In the spotlight for a different reason, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o says he was duped into falling in love with a woman he met online four years ago, but never saw in person.

"The feelings, the pain, the sorrow; that was all real," Te'o said during his exclusive interview with Katie Couric Thursday.

But Te'o isn't the only one to get caught up in a relationship scam. MTV made a show about it called "Catfish" - someone online who's really pretending to be someone else.

Dr. Dawn Braithwaite is the Department Chair of Communication Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She's also a specialist in relationship communication.

"It's really hard to detect those things. Dating's always been risky and we've had to worry about things. Now we have a whole other layer of things we have to worry about," Dr. Braithwaite said.

She says social media is the perfect platform to prey on victims, and she makes sure to warn her students.

"Two things I think all students, everybody needs to realize: One, nothing is really private and two, nothing ever goes away. And that's so dangerous and kind of scary isn't it," Braithwaite said.

So in this age of digital-dating, how do you keep from falling prey to catfish? Here are some red flags to look for:

1. Control - The scammer is likely to be in control of the contact from start to finish.
2. Rapid Relationship - The scammer is likely to profess their love within days or months.
3. Disaster Central - The fake partner almost always has some challenge/crisis/accident that requires help from the victim.

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