Traci Brown: Imogen, thank you so much for joining me today. I’m so excited to meet you. We got connected through a virtual online conference from our friend, Tony Sales, on fraud. It was a London conference that I got up really crazy early in the morning to be a part of. We just got connected somehow. But then from reading your profile, I think we have more in common than probably just fraud because one of your favorite books is Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life, which is one of my favorite books too. I learned to read people, because you know I’m a body language expert, originally through therapy. I was a therapist, an NLP practitioner in hypnosis. Man, that book is so spot on.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: It really is.
Traci Brown: About the thought processes that can manifest themselves in certain, I guess, afflictions or disease or whatever you want to call it. Anyway, what’s your experience been with that book?
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Yea. I think for me it’s kind of my go to. It’s not one of those books that you read once and then put down and leave to get dusty on your bookshelf. For me, I guess not to go too deep into it, but when I was younger unfortunately my parents passed away. So for me, I think growing up and watching my mother struggle with four children, worked spilt shifts, never having a car, never having even carpet on the floor, things like that, her constant stresses in life. Yes, there was a lot of adversity around us, and she would continue to do what she could, but you could tell she was keeping a lot away from us children. You’d hear her crying at night and things like that. Not to make a sob story, but to me I’m such a keen believer in whatever is going on up here affects what’s going on in your body. I don’t think people understand that enough, just at how bad stress is for you and how important your mental health is. Yea, that book for me is something that I always go back to and try and retrain my mind, shall we say, just to remember what the bigger picture is, yea, and things like that. It’s a very important book to me. I think your past at that and therapy and what you mentioned about Hawaii, what you did out there, it’s really interesting.
Traci Brown: Oh yea. Because I had never talked about this on my podcast, but yea, I’m trained in Hawaiian Huna, which is Hawaiian spirituality and healing. It turns out they have a very, very simple, yet I’m going to say profound system for understanding the connection of the energy on the planet to yourself and how that creates your world and what happens, both internally and externally. It’s a really neat way to sum up almost every personal development book that you can possibly read into one experience or one thought process. It’s really how I try to live my life. Okay, how did I create this? What can I be doing differently? What emotions or limiting beliefs and decisions am I carrying around? More importantly, how can I get to the other side of it? I have seen some crazy things happen in Hawaii, the things that you would think is in a science fiction book where a kahuna or one of the great, let’s call them medicine men, a lot of them are actually hula teachers, and they sit next to you and you can feel their vibration because they’re so connected to all of the energy that is. I’ve seen these guys and maybe their spirit animal is a shark, and they’re doing a ceremony, and they go to the edge of the bay to chant, and all of a sudden the lifeguards on the loudspeakers saying, “We have a shark in the bay. Everyone needs to get out of the water.” The kahuna goes, and he’s like “I’m so sorry that I called the shark into the bay. That was me.” I’ve seen thunderstorms appear out of nowhere. But that’s just the connection. We think we’re separate from nature and we’re really not. How I use that now is to understand people on a deeper level than maybe, well certainly than anyone would want another person to be understood, right. You can’t hide. Not to say that I’m the greatest at it by any stretch, but even having the ability to look beneath the surface and feel what’s going on for someone else can be really beneficial. Anyway, it’s landed me here.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: I bet that really comes into play though with what you do. I guess, you know, to the terms of kind of, you know, body language and stuff like that. It’s that deeper thing of when you’re looking at someone. I don’t know. People in my life all the time say to me, “You don’t just have like, you know, friends or just people that are in your life, like you really kind of delve in deeper.” It gets to the point where I’m going on my daily walk with my younger sister who I live with, and we’ll mention something, just something really subtle, and I’ll always take it that level deeper. A couple of days ago, Tiffany said to me, she said, “Imogen, you know, you always look at going a lot deeper and taking me into that next level of conversation but tonight, you know, I’m tired and I don’t want to look at the deeper meaning of life.” It gets to the point where I think maybe I read too many books, Traci, I don’t really know, but it definitely gets to a point where I think people around me get a bit tired over my you need to see the world like this.
Traci Brown: That can happen. I just dial it back and just kind of know what’s going on. But like I said, it has led me here. I imagine your study has led you to where you are. Let’s talk about what you’re doing now. Why don’t you just let everyone know. What are you doing now? What’s a day like for you?
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Yea, absolutely. Currently working with a company called TransUnion in the device intelligence side of things. Through our platform, which was previously known as Iovation, which the American market might know it better, one or the other. But through that I work with companies and consult them on how to either better their own boarding journey but also to make their forward processes a lot more slick. When we are talking about the world of fraud, as we know from the We Fight Fraud Expo that we went to, how easy it is for data to be purchased on the dark web.
Traci Brown: Oh, yea.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: How cheap it is as well, which blew my mind. It actually blew my mind. This is about taking it that one step further, having that extra safety net, looking further into that device behavior. What has that device been associated with before? What kind of anomaly is that pulling up? Is that person using a proxy webserver or some geolocation and things like that? It’s an extra safety net to kind of capture those fraudsters and see if we can catch them in a different way, which we have been very successful at doing.
Traci Brown: Are you then individually tracking people or do you have a computer system overlay that’s going to do that and flag certain behaviors of certain people? Tell me about that.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Yes. It’s a technology. We use machine learning, but we also have a huge consortium. The companies that we work with, we work multi sectors of companies, they will have, of course, forwarded on a list that may notice something suspicious to add to that consortium and through that other companies can be alerted basically of what has been seen.
Traci Brown: Oh, wow. Okay, okay. How did you get into this? Was there a direct path that led you there? Did you just kind of end up here?
Imogen Hammond-Williams: I’ll be really honest and maybe I’ll say some things that . . . maybe I shouldn’t say, Traci, but it’s honesty hour.
Traci Brown: Okay, yea, yea. That’s what we do. Yea.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: When I was younger, I’ll be honest, I grew up on a council estate. My dad wasn’t very good. He was into all that bad stuff.
Traci Brown: Wait, wait. Back up. Back up a little bit. A council estate, we don’t have that in America. What is it?
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Sorry. That may be more of an English term. Like government housing.
Traci Brown: Oh, okay, okay. Got it.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: I kind of grew up with my mum being the hard worker, the person to look up to, and then I had kind of my dad on the other shoulder taking a very different path to life. When you’re there and your mum is struggling with money, stuff like that, I started thinking, how can I get enough money and support my mom. Rightly or wrongly, I used to . . . and I think this is why I identify with Tony a little bit because I’m . . . clocks were kind of going.
Traci Brown: Let’s just say who Tony is because people might not listen to that episode. It’s Tony Sales. He has been, I guess, awarded. I don’t know if awarded is the right name but titled by the media as Britain’s Greatest Fraudster. Over his career he stole what? – $30 million British pounds, something like that. Anyway, he’s on episode 5 of Fraud Busting which is fascinating.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: It’s a good episode.
Traci Brown: Yea, yea. Keep going, keep going.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Yea. I used to knock door to door saying I’m collecting money for protection, and the money was going to the charity. I carried on doing that, not knowing. As a child, I think I was an eight-year-old child, just thinking, how do I get money for gas and electric to give to my mum? It got to a point, I gave my mother this 10 pounds. I said, this is for the gas and electric. She took it but she looked at me. She was like, “Imogen, where have you gotten this money from?” I sat down and I said, “You know, I’ve been knocking on doors. I told them it’s for the protection”, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh. My mom looked at me, and she said, “Do you realize what you’re doing there? You have to go and take this money back and that’s not right.” She explained to me, you know, what fraud meant. You can’t do that. That’s not honest, and so on, and so forth. Obviously, I had to go back and apologize. I wrote a letter. Hopefully, she’s forgiven me now if she’s listening. But yea, that was my first, that’s the world of fraud. That’s not right. That’s cheating. Now, what I do is help online dating companies, as well as other verticals, but online dating is kind of I guess where my passion is sitting right now. But yea, I work with companies like that to see if we can get these fake profiles off the web and stop of the really sinister things that can happen on those sites.
Traci Brown: Let’s talk about that. Because I’ve been doing some study on online dating sites and romance fraud. It is nasty out there. It can be financially devastating for some people. I have a lot of questions about it. Let’s talk about specifically what you’re doing in that arena, what you’re seeing, how you’re helping the situation that goes on? What’s the lay of the land right now as far as online dating scams?
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Yea, sure. Online dating is a bit of a funny one. We’ve got shows, for example, called Catfish. We go and meet our friends in the pub, and they tell us funny stories about how the person they were talking to actually was the person’s pictures, a cousin that was a little heavier than the pictures. All of that stuff is very surface level things.
Traci Brown: I think that being heavier than your picture is, I suppose, this happens all the time.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Catfish though. I don’t cast that as a threat to . . . saying I’ve done that before. I’ve got a couple of Christmas pounds. But what I’m getting out there is it is kind of seen as entertainment because it’s happening on these social platforms, whereas if someone went into a bank and they were using someone else’s passport, all of a sudden it’s considered as a very different thing. Romance scams and things like that are actually seen as a #1 consumer fraud problem above anything else. I think the reason behind that is because there’s no regulation that sits there. Who takes the ownership? Is it the person that’s using the sites to take ownership from themselves? Is it the platforms? I mean, dating companies are very clever, very smart people working for them. They have all that in-house built things. By no means are they trying to run away from these problems. They know that they’re out there. It’s just a case of looking elsewhere, like a bank might do or like a telecommunications company might do to outsource and be like, okay, together what can we do? I truly believe that this kind of stuff takes a consortium and these online dating companies, and other companies, working together and taking a step back, zooming out, looking at the bigger picture and saying, okay, well this company can see that this device has been part of identity fraud with a bank, so actually I’m not going to let them use my site either.
Traci Brown: Oh, wow. Okay. I didn’t know they were doing that. Actually, Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, I believe he testified in a congressional hearing here, like a government congressional hearing that he had never heard of online dating fraud.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Wow.
Traci Brown: On his site. Yea. We might have different laws here in the States that what you all have there. I love to hear that you’re trying to work together. But I think over here, we have . . .
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Just before you go any further on that, Traci, the head office for my company is in Portland, so yea, with that, yes, there are different legalities. U.S. law is very different to the U.K. law and stuff like that, but we work with global companies all around the world and we’ve got a dedicated compliance unit to make sure we are GDPR compliant and not sharing data with anyone that we shouldn’t be. Everything we’re doing is above board, but yea, definitely they very much differ from U.S. law and the U.K. law and the rest of the world too.
Traci Brown: I love to hear that. I love to hear that because I think we have some challenges over here from what I’ve been understanding and with my conversations with people. The lawyers get involved. Let’s put a scenario up. You’ve probably dealt with something like this. It’s a fake profile. Maybe they’re using someone else’s picture. They’re really in Africa somewhere or South America to hook someone in and get them to fall in love with you online using someone else’s picture. Now, sometimes that someone else figures it out, and they figure out their picture is not only been used in one profile but maybe 50 and trying to get those pulled down has proven to be a challenge because I think it’s a legal thing where they’re like, well, if we say we’re actually responsible and aware of this, then all of a sudden, if we miss one, then we’re really on the hook legally. We have a little bit of that. Why don’t you speak to what you’re finding in that area, the kind of responses you’re getting from these dating sites, and ultimately what we want to do is give people some tips on how they can spot these profiles and just not engage.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Sure, yea. I think it’s not a straightforward easy thing. I’d probably need a week to sit and talk about it, Traci, unless you want to sign an NDA, I’m not going to be able to go to it.
Traci Brown: Just what you can. I don’t want to put you at risk.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Obviously, what we’d be looking at doing is plugging the technology in and creating a new account or login, so not kind of sifting through current databases, what can we do for that? That’s all down to the company’s risk-based approach. But on registration when someone is creating a brand-new account, our technology, we currently protect over 37,000 websites and apps that is working successfully. It’s that point of capturing them before they’re even able to get onto the site, if that makes sense.
Traci Brown: Oh, okay. Okay.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: We see the strength of doing that because that’s the thing, isn’t it? As you were saying before, we’re a lot more connected to the earth in our emotions and each other than we even let, and that’s exactly the same in a lot of fraud. These fraudsters are criminal masterminds. They are at the peak of using people by manipulating them. They’ve really turned it into an art. Without glorifying it, they are very good at what they do. They’re not just targeting dating sites. They’re also targeting banks, telecom companies. Fraudsters are never going to go away, are they? What we can do is put extra hurdles in place where it takes them a little bit longer to commit that crime or it pushes them onto another company. We can put more hurdles in place, but we’re never going to stop them completely. That’s just not going to happen. Unfortunately, I’d love to say we can completely stop them, but we can’t. That’s the point as well. Especially in the online dating world, they have something called a sucker’s list.
Traci Brown: Oh, tell me about that.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Let’s say, for example, I’m on a dating site. I’m speaking to a lovely man I think is a captain in the army, so I think he’s trustworthy. His pictures marry up. His career is good. We’re speaking on the phone. He’s asking me if I’ve eaten, if I’m okay. He really turns that part of my life into a safe haven, so I start to engage with him. He then is like, look, I want to fly and come and see you, but I don’t have money for the ticket, or I want to talk to you, but I can’t afford my phone bill. This has happened, that has happened. I’m like, okay, I still want to talk to you, I want to see you, so here’s money for a plane ticket to come and see me, or here’s money to pay your phone bill so we can carry on talking. Once I engage in that kind of activity, my information, data, name, occupation, date of birth, my finance state, is put then onto the dark web, and I’m entered into a sucker’s list to show that I’ve actually engaged with a fraudster and I’ve sent money to a fraudster. That then makes me an open target for other people to contact me on dating sites or for other people to have my information or social media and stuff like that. Again, very similar to what they were saying on the We Fight Fraud Expo the other day about the fraudsters sit in forums and discuss it and have things like these shared lists, and I think it’s about time we all sit there and do that. Like I said, the consortium that Iovation has is that exact thing to give that extra due diligence. Still for the company to make their own decision, but it gives them the extra, I guess, bit of information to make their decision on whether to transact with this customer and trust them or to not allow them on the site. That’s up to them from that, but sharing that information is going to be helpful and that is why.
Traci Brown: Do you have any specific cases that you’ve worked on that you can talk about?
Imogen Hammond-Williams: I mean, there are a lot of things that I’m aware of. I guess I’ll begin with talking about why I’m so passionate about the dating world and why I’m so interested in speaking to these companies. I guess it all starts with a certain expo that I went to, one of the biggest data companies that are well known globally, they stood up and they were part of their Q&A panel. Someone in the room said to them, okay, you know, in romance scams, that subject. What do you do if someone on your site contacts you and says they’ve been scammed? They’ve been poached and part of a fraud transaction. He sat up and he replied, “I’ll be honest. The first thing we do is send them to therapy or counseling or we give them a suicide help line.”
Traci Brown: Really?
Imogen Hammond-Williams: I sat there, and I was like, this now is so different to what I thought the fraud world, like in the online dating space and social networks space. This has now turned into, I guess, it’s the empathetic side of me and losing my parents, I guess you kind of, everything clicks all at once and I sat there and I thought, wow, like this is not a joke. This is not catfish documentaries where it’s all a bit fun and games because he’s a couple of pounds heavier. These aren’t jokes sitting in a pub having a laugh that this person wasn’t really who you were speaking to, like vulnerable, lonely people sometimes, they’re just looking for love and putting their heart on the line are being targeted and it’s getting to the point where they are being referred to counseling or suicide prevention helplines, and that, for me, every single day when I wake up, and it’s no joke, that plays on my mind, completely and utterly plays on my mind. If I can help one, two, three companies or just speak about it a little bit more of the truth and exposing what’s happening on these dating sites and working together to try and change that, it’s not about you should be doing this, you should be doing that, because they know their business better than I do, but what I can do to help you? It’s not about me benefiting. It’s about the internet being a safer place. That stuck with me, Traci, I’ll be honest.
Traci Brown: Wow. That is fascinating. Now, have you ever been involved in a romance scam? Has that ever hit home?
Imogen Hammond-Williams: I guess we’ll go onto that funny story, but I think catfished, I’ll say that.
Traci Brown: Explain a little bit about that for people who maybe need to be learning.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Yes. The term catfish is a term that is given to someone that does not look like their pictures that they were using on a social network. Yea. They have used someone else’s pictures or information basically. I’ve walked into a bar. I’ve met them again on a big dating site. We’d been speaking for four to five weeks, something like that. We’d spoken on the phone. I walk into the bar and I sit down. I look around. I think, he must be late. Bless him. I won’t give him a hard time, but if he’s not here in another five minutes, I’m going to have to go. I sit there, and my phone rings. I pick up the phone, and it’s him. He’s like, look to the right of you. I look to the right, and I’ve never seen this man in my life. But he’s got my mobile number. He knows my name. Now, he knows everything about me because I’ve been talking to him like that. I said, are you the guy I’ve been speaking to on the dating site? He said, “Yea”, like what’s wrong? I was like, “Oh, nothing, but were you not using your pictures?”
Traci Brown: You said that the first thing?
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Yea, because it was all over my face, Traci. You didn’t need to be a body language expert like yourself to see what was going on.
Traci Brown: Right, right.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: I had to come right out and say it. I felt like so betrayed and kind of scared because he knew everything about me. I didn’t have a clue who this guy was sitting in front of me. It was very daunting. Yea. So he said, “Oh, yea, sorry. I was using my cousin’s pictures.” It turns out none of the things he told me were true. His job wasn’t true and stuff like that. It was just quite a scary situation. That’s absolutely nothing compared to some of the sinister things that is happening on there. You hear stories about ladies falling in love. A lot of catfish profiles, they tend to act as though they’re in the army or some other kind of trusted figure. I don’t know if you heard that story, but there was that lady and she fell in love with this colonel in the army. She was sending him money, which again is how some sectors, our paths cross with other sectors. She was using a huge transfer company to then transfer money to this guy.
Traci Brown: You all could see it there at TransUnion?
Imogen Hammond-Williams: If they were subscribers. Yea, theoretically.
Traci Brown: Got it.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Yea, in time, he was then inviting her to Ghana. She was like, “Why is it Ghana? I thought you lived in the U.S.?” He was like, “I’m just over here at the moment.” She flies over to Ghana.
Traci Brown: No!
Imogen Hammond-Williams: And realizes it wasn’t him. Then he packs her bag on the way back. In her bag, he was a drug trafficker, so in her bag he’s put drugs and money and stuff in her case. She then goes to the airport and they’re like, “Hey Miss, can we check your bag?” She’s like, “Sure. That’s absolutely fine.” Bag opened and they find all this stuff. She’s currently in jail now. But she did all that unwillingly. Maybe there was part of her being willing there, but she was a 55-year-old lady. She was alone. Her husband had passed away. She was looking for company. She really believed she loved this man. They do that to her to get whatever they need to in the U.S. Yea. Now she’s sitting in jail quite literally. There are all kinds of stories like that. Use your imagination.
Traci Brown: Yea. Let’s go back to your conversation. When you’re sitting there with this guy. Nothing he said is true. How long did you stay at the bar? How did that really go?
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Yea, yea, good question. I think it was like the British politeness in me.
Traci Brown: Okay.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Maybe stayed for longer than I should have. I did order a gin and tonic. I finished it, and then I politely left. But I didn’t want him to think I was leaving because he didn’t look like his pictures. But I did make it clear that I couldn’t trust someone like that that’s lied to me for five weeks. That’s not okay. Then you’ve got the other side of things like all of a sudden you feel very sad because obviously that’s his self-esteem and stuff like that. That could have turned out so much worse. That could have been someone that wanted to put me on a sucker’s list, you know.
Traci Brown: Oh, yea, yea, yea. Now, okay. I met my husband online. I did. We’ve been married almost, I think six years, now, five . . . I’m losing track. Not very long. What are some tips that you would have? Now are we talking mostly ladies have this problem or do guys have this problem too? Because most of the stories I’m hearing are the guys are the ones that are up to no good. What’s your opinion on that? What can people look for right away on a profile to go, yep, this is real, or nope, not at all? What are you seeing out there? Give us some rules to go by.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: It’s not gender specific at all. What you find, they’re referred to as yahoo guys or yahoo women.
Traci Brown: Okay.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: It tends to be . . . a massive study that I read, it’s going on in Western Africa, that’s a huge target for this because they have the setup. First of all, there are more phones than people, but they also have these internet cafes. All of these people, men and women will go to these internet cafes. They’ve got full scripts, so if new recruits come in, they’ve got full scripts. Like, this is your script. This is the information you need. This is your ID card. This is your back story.
Traci Brown: It’s set.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: It’s set. It’s so perfectly put together. They’re very clever people in what they’re doing. Like I said, master manipulators.
Traci Brown: Right.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: But they sit in this café, an internet café or a house, and they all cross reference their stories. Again, once they’re entered onto the sucker’s list, this guy swaps information with this guy. They then talk to new people. They’re doing it time and time again to multiple people.
Traci Brown: Is there anything we can do to get ahead of this? I’m not sure how to do this. Maybe you know, like an image reverse search on google or anything along those lines?
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Yea. Definitely. Reverse search. I always say you need to call them. See if you can hear their voice. If someone’s asking for money, absolutely do not send it. Just be very careful. If you’re going to meet someone, make sure your family members know where it is that you’re going and things like that. I always check phone numbers too. If someone gives me their phone numbers, I always put that into . . . there are loads of sites that you can search that for. I always search mobile numbers. Is that enough for me to sit here and say that to somebody that is using these sites? I’m not sitting next to them when they’re on dates with these people. I can’t be in their ear and say don’t have that other drink or whatever. There is definitely that side of things where you have to be careful with using these sites. Just do not send money. There is no reason to send money if you’ve never met someone. Do not do it. There’s also the other side and the dating companies and what we can do, and that is more where my specialty is. I guess the personal side using it, it is just from my experiences, but with companies generally fill the consortium that we can offer them and show them the bigger picture of what’s going on can help them protect their community before we’re having to sit here and say, well, reverse search the images and stuff like that. I think looking at the bigger picture, there is a lot more we could all do.
Traci Brown: I think so and I think, for one, I’m loving to hear this because I’ve never heard . . . like getting ready for this interview, I had no idea that ya’ll at TransUnion are up to such cool stuff and really supporting, like catching people before they sign up. I think that’s awesome. But I’ll tell you what I do for my friends, and I have a few friends that are divorced. They’re back out dating. I’m like, I need you to send me the pictures of these guys that you’re going out with and I’ll give you a read on them before. I’ll tell you what their general baseline of life is and a little bit about their emotions. Here’s what you can probably expect. Now, so far, I’m 100% on doing this.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: It’s like a palm reading.
Traci Brown: It is a little bit. I do this. My friends know I do this. My friend sent me this one picture and I said, do not go out with this guy. I go, do not go out with this guy. He has a lot of latent anger. It’s not going to be anything you’re going to want to deal with. I’m like, no. The answer is no. What did she do? She talks to another friend of mine, and she’s like, oh, he’s great. I didn’t know this. She goes out with him, and then he turns out to be a stalker.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Wow.
Traci Brown: I talked to her. I was like, look, here’s the deal. I told you to not go out with this guy. He has your address now. It’s your call now about how you’re going to shut this guy down. I don’t freaking know. I told you to head this thing off at the pass. Yea, there is a lot you can read from people’s pictures when you know how to do it. The problem is our heart gets in the way. Right. If you just stick to the facts and what you see, because you have to assume that people put up – assuming it’s their picture, right, that people put up the best pictures of them that they have that are most representative. You can pick out emotions in their pictures. You probably know this. When people are scowling and their eyes are down like this, but then they’re smiling at the same time, that’s not a smile. That’s someone that has real anger and it’s just waiting to come out on you when the time is right. Everybody has like a different emotion that they go to when they’re stressed, and you can pick it out from their pictures. Don’t get too sucked in just because someone’s into you. Make sure they’re someone you want to be into you.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: I think another thing that’s really important to mention though is the other side of things and things we can’t see to the naked eye, things that people like you and I using the site, we don’t know that it’s there and that’s the side of malware and ransomware and stuff like that. There have been many stories like that where, you know, not to name any names but information has been linked from dating sites. People have been using that information. Think of pictures. We’re not going to pretend and sit here that people don’t send each other pictures on dating sites to be a bit flirty and stuff like that. It’s also been known through ransomware that people get a hold of this information. Okay, I’ve got his occupation here. He’s an investment banker. Okay. He’s on this particular site that promotes cheating, so I know that he’s cheating on his wife. He sent this picture to her. I know he’s got a lot of money. This is the stuff he’s been up to. I’m going to contact him. I know where he works and everything and demand a ransom and I won’t leak the information. You’ve also got that side of things. You’ve got the bots kind of attacking the sites getting this information and then exploiting people that way. The romance scams are on things and then stuff like ransomware is a completely different thing that we can’t see with the naked eye. Again, that’s why I think technology is the way forward for this.
Traci Brown: Oh, wow. Okay. Are there any sites that you would recommend versus not recommend? Are you at liberty to say?
Imogen Hammond-Williams: I think every dating site that are out there at the minute are fantastic in what they’re doing. The technology that they can create in-house, the care that they put into their community, they’re very engaged, talking about how they can keep their members safe, and stuff like that. I think for me it’s just a case of a case by case, person by person, and just be careful with what you’re doing.
Traci Brown: Got it. Got it.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: In terms of that, I mean, there are dating sites for all kinds of different reasons. You’ve got the likes of people that use dating sites because they’ve got the likes of IBS, for example.
Traci Brown: Oh really? Huh.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Yea, because people maybe uncomfortable explaining some of their issues with someone that doesn’t have that, so you can go on a dating site and meet someone that has the same problems. Or same sex couples, I actually met my girlfriend now on a same-sex couple’s site. Maybe after my catfishing with the guy, it scared me a little bit.
Traci Brown: Yea.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: For me, I guess it’s part of being a minority as well. It’s really hard. Sometimes walking down the street, I don’t know if a lady is into ladies and stuff like that. I kind of have to rely on that side of things. Yea, it was a safe community where everyone had the same views. You could just meet like-minded people and through that I was lucky to find love through it. But I think dating sites are so important and really a part of . . . especially we’re looking at now, a lot of us are in isolation, and imagine being single right now. I’m very lucky that I’m living with my sister and her child and her boyfriend. But think of those people that are single. They don’t have children. They’re not in a partnership or anything, and they’re lonely. They’re looking at connecting with people and engaging with people, and they’re using sites like that to stay connected. I think that they’re really important, genuinely.
Traci Brown: Well, for sure. No one likes to think you could have someone and then just, I don’t know. I met losers for a long time, like, really a long time. These things are handy. You’ve just got to know how to protect yourself. Alright, what is your final tip for people on online dating? If you could leave people with one tip? It could be micro. It could be like big picture because I know you’re looking at that. What do you got?
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Do not put your occupation on dating sites. Just don’t do it. Just don’t do it. Let your personality shine through because again, there are these search functions in there. If I’m a scammer and I’m going on, I’m looking for an investment banker, all those investment bankers are going to come up and I can talk with them. Don’t put your occupation on dating sites and just do not send money. Whatever you do, do not send money. There is no reason to send someone you’ve never met before, there is no reason to send them money, so just don’t do it.
Traci Brown: Right.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: That would be my two top tips.
Traci Brown: And don’t get on a plane to Kenya.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Do not get on a plane anywhere if they wouldn’t Facetime you. If the webcam’s broken, walk away. That’s probably not going to end well.
Traci Brown: Oh, oh. Okay. Alright. Good.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Before I meet any online, not that I have now for two years, I’m in a committed relationship, but before meeting anyone I would always, always Facetime them. I fully vet someone, so I’ve talked to them online, after three days I want to Facetime them. I want to make sure the person I’m talking to is that person. If they don’t Facetime, don’t webcam, the odds aren’t going to look good.
Traci Brown: Right, right.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: I probably wouldn’t meet them.
Traci Brown: Wow. You have just been a wealth of knowledge. Thank you so much for coming on the show here.
Imogen Hammond-Williams: Thanks for having me, Traci. I’ve really enjoyed chatting with you. Thanks for having me on. I hope it gave a little bit of insight into what’s going on in the dating world.
Traci Brown: Oh, for sure. Absolutely.