Catfish in Arizona: How to protect yourself from internet love hoax

PHOENIX - Thousands search and find true love online, but there are a handful of hopefuls who get duped in the process.

Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o has taken center stage as one of the better-known victims of this internet hoax, but he's just one of many.

In the valley, Dana Young with Discovery Detective Group in Scottsdale says she sees these types of cases all too often. Unfortunately for her clients, many lose thousands of dollars in the process.

"It's more common than you think especially here in Arizona. There are so many transplants who move here from out of state. It makes it more difficult to find out information on someone if they aren't from here," said Young.

Young's most recent client was a young woman who fell for a man who claimed to be a successful investor.

"We found nothing on him and we thought that's a red flag because here's a big investor. There should be lots of information on him and nothing came up. So they got his license plate number, we tracked that to a real name and within ten minutes of having that license plate number we found out in the 90's he was a part of the biggest fraud rings in California," said Young.

Young says there are three things to watch out for if you use the internet for dating. First, if it is a whirlwind relationship, meaning everything is moving fast. Second, if the person you're dating is pulling you away from family and friends, making it difficult for you to be influenced. Lastly, if they ask you to invest in a business they work for or point blank as you for money.

"You should always do research on your own, because you never know. But if that person is from out of state or recently moved here, look into hiring someone who does background checks. They can dig up information you don't have available at your fingertips," said Young.

To hire a service like Discovery Detective Group for a typical background check, it costs an average of $50 to $75.

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