Social exchange occurs in every facet of daily life, and exchange theory assumes that actors encounter ambiguity and uncertainty when interacting. Currently, a limitation in social exchange theory is the lack of research on deceit or opportunism, and there is only limited work examining how social relationships are initially established. Initial relationships are difficult to establish because of uncertainty caused by incomplete knowledge of others’ intentions and the risk of exploitation. I propose that the possibility of fraud or exploitation directly affects how individuals trust a new partner based on the ability to interpret risk and uncertainty. I develop a theoretical argument linking the possibility of fraud or exploitation to levels of trust between individuals, focusing on actors' ability to interpret risk and uncertainty. If individuals deem that they cannot trust their partner, then to secure a new relationship and successfully exchange, individuals adopt risk reduction mechanisms. I conducted an online crowdsourced experiment to test when individuals would turn from trusting their partner for an initial exchange to employing a trusted third party to provide assurance for the exchange based on the levels of risk and reputation. The results support that risk perception and adoption of risk reduction are significantly related, but the cause of risk requires further refinement and future research.