(KPLR) - It`s easier than ever to meet new people thanks to the internet, but how do you know they are really who they say they are?
Tech guy Rich Demuro is explaining what it means to be 'Catfished' online and how you can protect yourself from fake profiles.
Rich Demuro says: "It can happen to anyone. Football player Man-tie Te`o fell victim to it, even the star of 'Criminal Minds' Thomas Gibson got fooled. So how can you tell if you`ve got the perfect catch - or just a cruel catfish?"
Jen Friel says: "I legitimately did think that there`s no way that something like this would ever happen to me. And then it did."
Misled by a mysterious suitor.
Jen Friel says: "He was very attractive. The sexy eyes, black and white. It very quickly evolved into a relationship, without actually being one."
Head-turning snapshots. The bait that usually reels in the target of a Catfish.
On mtv`s hit show of the same name, creator nev (neev) schulman exposes the identities of internet imposters to the victims they`ve manipulated, like a bombshell blonde - who turns out to be somebody else.
Nev says: "Most of the online relationships that I`ve heard of being catfish relationships start from Facebook//01:55:10 People who got a random friend request."
In 2012, Facebook disclosed that they estimate over 83 million accounts on the site are fake. But Catfishing can happen on any platform.
Jen Friel says: "It`s humiliating. You know deep down that something isn`t right, but you can`t put your finger on it."
L.A. native Jen Friel invested over a year into 'Darien walker,' exchanging text messages, receiving gifts, and even talking on the phone for hours at a time. But every request for a face-to-face.
Jen Friel says: "Darien always gave the craziest excuses as to why we couldn`t meet up. His father or brother hit someone with their car, already in hospital."
Nev says: "Red flags are in many cases accidents, traumatic experiences//it`s used to illicit sympathy and to postpone the meeting up."
Continuous cop-outs prompted this blogger to ask for help on her website to find any clues about her suspicious significant other. But instead of locating 'Darien'.
Jen Friel says: "The readers of the site took his MySpace handle and put it into a google search and found a Photobucket account. It said the name Sarah."
Staring at a stranger - these photos were the outcome of the Google search. But without proof, jen doesn`t know for sure if this is the person she fell for.
Julie Albright says: "People could catfish for various reasons, could be a mental disorder, loneliness ,boredom - everyone has a different reason.'
Think you might be courted by a catfish? Watch for the warning signs, like if your suitor avoids video chats. Or, randomly cuts off contact for a prolonged period of time. And of course: always trust your instincts. We all know there are plenty of fish in the sea, just make sure it`s not a catfish on the line.
Nev says: "As long as human beings are pursuing love I think there will be those who are willing to take advantage of that."
Rich Demuro says: "If you want to go a step further, try `reverse searching` the profile pic of a potential new love interest. Just go to "images dot google dot com", and drag their picture into the search bar. It will show you the pages it`s been posted on. Tomorrow --- navigating the sea of online dating. How to find your soulmate in cyber space. With your virtual reality check, I`m Rich Demuro."
For more on The Tech Report, head to http://thetechreport.tv/.