Where is the person you are talking to? Are they who they say they are? For verification, you can ask this person to follow a special link. You will see their IP address and this will tell you their approximate location.
How IP tracking links work
We recently played along with a fake job recruiter scam. At the beginning we knew it was a scam, but we wanted to confirm the location of the scammer. They said they were in the US, but were they? We verified by tracking their IP with a link.
There is nothing special about this — when someone accesses a resource on the network, the server sees its unique IP address. And IP addresses are tied to rough geographical areas. But popular web services don’t usually show you the person’s IP address, although you could certainly see it yourself if you had your own web server. This method uses an online service that «wraps» the real link for you by tracking down the IP address that is accessing it before quickly sending the person to the link’s real target.
This has its limitations. Anyone can use a VPN to mask their real location. But, even if they are, there is a high probability that the VPN will show another place where they claim to be. In the case of our fake recruiter, the scammers claimed to be in the US, but they accessed our link from an IP address located in Nigeria.
If you don’t yet know the location someone is claiming from and you’re just trying to figure out if they’re genuine, you need to convince the person to say where they are before sending them a link. Bringing this into a conversation shouldn’t be too hard, the nature of the internet makes asking for location a regular part of online discussion — anyone else remember A/S/L?
Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to prepare the digital file for sending them. An image, a Word document, or anything you can attach to a cloud storage link will do. If you are dealing with a possible scammer, that scammer may ask you to send them something as part of a scam. If you are dating online, you can send a photo. When you’re ready to send the file, you need to wrap this regular link with an IP tracking service.
Unfortunately, this process creates a link, obviously for tracking purposes. You will need to use another service to hide this. You probably don’t want the other person to notice your trick.
RELATED: scam alert: fake recruiters tried to catch us, here’s what happened
How to Create a Disguised Tracking Link
You can link to any web page on the Internet, but this process will help you create a link to one of your files or photos.
The first step is to upload your file to a cloud service like Dropbox or Google Drive. If you suspect that the person you are communicating with is not trustworthy and you do not want to divulge any personal information, it is best not to use any master account you have. You can create a second «disposable» account if you don’t already have one.
After uploading the file, use the website to create a shared link. In Google Drive, you can right-click on a file and select «share link». In Dropbox, hover your mouse over a file and select Share.
This is the link that your suspected scammer will hit at the end of the process. But don’t give them that link. By itself, this tells us nothing.