Where is the person you are talking to located? Are they who they say they are? To verify this, you can have that person click on a special link. You will see their IP address and that will give you their approximate location.
How IP tracking links work
Wait a minute: They said they were in the US, but that’s what Nigeria says!
We recently played along with a fake job recruiter scam . We initially knew this was a scam but wanted to confirm the scammer’s location. They said they were in the US – but were they? We verified this by tracking their IP with a link.
There’s nothing special about that: when someone accesses a resource online, the server sees their unique IP address. And IP addresses are tied to harsh geographical areas. However, popular web services don’t usually show you that person’s IP address, although you could certainly see it yourself if you hosted your own web server. The method used here uses an online service that “wraps” a real link for you and tracks the IP address being accessed before quickly sending the person to the link’s actual destination.
This has its limits. Anyone can use a VPN to mask their real location. But even if they are, there’s a good chance the VPN is showing a different location than they claim to be. In the case of our fake recruiter, the scammer claimed to be in the US, but accessed our link from a Nigeria-based IP address.
If you don’t already know the location someone claims they’re from and just want to find out if it’s real, you need to convince the person to say where they are before you send them the link. It shouldn’t be too difficult to work that into a conversation. Because of the nature of the Internet, asking about location is a routine part of an online discussion. Anyone remember A/S/L?
Once you have done this you will need to prepare a digital file to send. An image, Word document, or anything you can attach to a cloud storage link will do. When dealing with a potential scammer, you may be asked to send them something as part of a scam. If you are online, you may want to send a photo. Once you’re ready to send a file, you’ll need to connect that normal link to a Lance IP tracking service.
Unfortunately, this process creates a link that is obviously used for tracking. You need to use another service to hide this. You probably don’t want the other person to spot your trick.
How to create a stealth tracking link
You can use a link to any online website. However, this process will guide you through creating 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 interacting with is untrustworthy and you don’t want to give out any personal information, it’s a good idea not to use a master account that you have. You may want to create a second “throw away” account if you don’t already have one.
After uploading your file, use the website to create a shareable link. In Google Drive, you can right-click the file and select “Shareable Link”. In Dropbox, hover over the file and select Share.
This is the link your alleged scammer will land on at the end of the process. But don’t give them that link. In itself it tells us nothing.
Instead, go to the IP logger website and paste your URL into the “URL and Image Shortener” field. Below that, click the “Get IPlogger Code” button.
On the next screen you will get an “IP logger link to collect statistics” and a “link to view statistics”. Copy the View Statistics link to a safe place. This allows you to then view the person’s IP address and location.
The link to collect statistics is the one with IP tracking. Unfortunately, this “iplogger.com” link is a dead giveaway for your recipient.
To hide what you are doing you can use a URL shortening service. Unfortunately, these shortening services don’t like the IP Logger URLs and generate errors. To bypass this, click the iplogger.org dropdown menu to the right of “Choose a domain name” and choose “2no.co” for your domain. The tracking link above will be updated. Copy this new link.
Next, go to bit.ly – you can try another shortening service if you prefer, but we tested with Bitly. If you don’t already have an account, create one.
Click the “Create” button in the top right corner of the Bitly website.
Paste your 2no.co tracking link in the ‘Paste Long URL’ field and click the ‘Create’ button.
You now have a Bitly link to give to your would-be scammer. You can click the Copy button to get them quickly.
View the recipient’s IP address
Send this link to the person you are speaking to as you would a standard link. Next, return to the IP logger, copy the View Statistics link and paste it into your browser.
You’ll see a list of all the IP addresses that accessed the link, which location they’re from, and possibly what browser they’re using.
Remember, this doesn’t tell you everything. If the person is using a VPN or similar technology, the true location will not be revealed. But it’s another tool in your arsenal for spotting people who aren’t who they say they are. If your tracking results show a different country than expected, be careful and consider walking away.