The virtual world has grown by leaps and bounds over the past two decades and, as a result, all types can be found in cyberland. Most people are friendly, kind, informative and helpful but, unfortunately, there are others who are harassing, scheming, cruel or even criminal. While these types can be found in the "real world", the distinction is you can't see people you encounter on the Internet, so you have to often rely on instincts.
Interacting with others online can be fun and most people you come across will probably turn out to be sincere. Occasionally, you'll bump into someone who isn't all they present themselves to be, and these individuals are known as "the Fakers". A clever Faker can be hard to identify, and to recognize this person you have to be able to pick up on behavioral clues.
How do you know when someone you met online is lying? While there is no surefire way to tell, there are some strong warning signs.
The Faker is usually a charming person, one who shares common interests, is overly-agreeable, and an expert in the art of manipulation. Sometimes you can spot the Faker immediately, but often his or her exploits don't surface right away because he or she has carefully crafted a masquerade. Usually, the Faker will expose him or herself over the course of time, but by keeping your guard up, you can spot one sooner.
Warning signs you may have met a Faker online:
Probes You for Personal Information
Beware of the person who probes for personal information. Fakers are usually motivated by several factors including criminal activity, stalking or they are predators. Others are lonely and/or insecure and create an imaginary persona to try to fill that emptiness they feel. Depending on the Faker’s motives, his or her behavior may be outright aggressive or it can come across in a subtle, yet insistent, fashion. He or she is desperately trying to obtain information about you for whatever motive is sought.
Many Fakers show telltale signs by demanding an unusually high level of attention. They also have a tendency to be on the pushy or aggressive side. These pretenders generally have a specific goal or target in mind, whether it is a material item (like stealing money or hacking a computer) or a person. With the latter, it may be he or she has developed an attachment, possibly an unhealthy or obsessive one. Watch out for this one.
Shares a Lot of Information Quickly
A person who masquerades as someone he or she is not may be overzealous in sharing personal information and send lots of photos in order to gain trust to convince you to share yours. This type of Faker isn’t worried about readily giving his or her information because more often than not, it's fake. The pictures, the location, the job, marriage status, possibly even the name, are all or partially phony. In many cases, this person presents him or herself as having the ideal life.
Someone willing to share so quickly is either being reckless or giving fake information. Trust but verify is a good approach. Search Facebook, LinkedIn, WhitePages and/or other online sources. If the person is for real, it should be relatively easy to verify the details about him or her somewhere else on the Internet. Also do a Google image search connected with the name the person gives, if it's a stolen photo, it will probably show up associated with someone else's online account(s).
In chatting with a Faker, "dual personality" characteristics might surface because the person can't effectively keep up with his or her "real" personality out over the course of time. Some Fakers try to stick to themselves as much as possible, but others create a whole new identity. With the latter type of faker, the personalities are likely to ultimately clash at some point. A lack of consistency is present because the Faker tells so many lies he or she loses track of details. Watch for contradictions as this type of Faker talks about him or herself.
Thieves, predators, and stalkers masquerading as friends to gain someone's trust are dangerous. The lonely Faker sounds harmless, but he or she can also cause damage because he or she tends to play on people’s emotions. Imagine finding out the person you thought you knew isn't anything close to what was represented.
When emotions come into play it's easier to believe lies about age, looks, employment, marital status and even material items, such as cars or homes. When people get involved with others they meet online, just like in the offline world, it can be difficult to accept the truth when the Faker's true colors emerge and his or her persona has turned out to be nothing but fabricated lies.
Unfortunately, people are not always who they claim to be. Online Fakers will often steal the photographs of other people to use to portray themselves.
When Things Turn Dangerous
Sometimes the Faker does no harm, but other times it can get ugly, even deadly. In one situation about a decade ago, two men were vying for the same woman's affections and one man murdered the other. ABC News reported in 2011:
"In 2006, co-workers Thomas Montgomery and Brian Barrett became so entangled in an online love triangle with a young woman who identified herself as "talhotblond" that Thomas eventually murdered Barrett at their office. Neither man realized that they were fighting over an overweight, middle-aged, stay-at-home mom." 
The only honest person in this situation was the victim, Brian Barrett. 2 Turned out the woman, Mary Shieler, had adopted her daughter's persona without telling her. After Brian Barrett was murdered she was not charged in the case, although officials tried. ABC reported in 2011, Shieler "may have tramped all over the moral and ethical line, but never crossed the legal one." 3 Montgomery, who was married with children, had lied about his age and life. He was charged with the murder, pleaded guilty, and was given a 20-year sentence.
Befriending or dating people met over the Internet is often a rewarding experience, but it is disappointing (and in some cases very dangerous!) finding out a pal or loved one has been deceitful all along. By learning how to recognize the signs and keeping your guard up, you'll be able to mostly distinguish who's real and who's fake. Many of the signs are there, but you have to be looking.