Don’t Be A Victim of On Line Dating
A phenomenon of the 21st Century is the advent of social media and on line dating. Sites such as Zoosk, Match, Our Time, Elite Singles, and other sites as well as facebook offer the ability to “hook up”, with someone who has similar interest and goals and objectives in life. These sites call for people who are interested in meeting someone to provide a good picture, a detailed profile, patience, and the ability to have fun.
However, predators frequently submit their pictures with a fictitious background with the intention of luring the unsuspecting and naïve to enter into a relationship in order to fleece their victim of money, or worse, to satisfy their masochist fantasies. Of course not all folks who contract with an on line dating service are looking for an easy mark, or to take advantage of the lonely. Most are looking for an interesting relationship with the hope of developing the relationship into a life long partnership.
In the last two months, we have been contacted to investigate four cases where a person has met someone on a dating site only to be entrapped into giving the person they thought they knew on line into giving them money. Couldn’t happen to me you say? Well the perpetrator of fraud is very convincing and good at developing on line relationships to where you think you really know the person and have developed an attachment to them.
In one case a young woman met a man on line and soon began having face time conversations with him. Over a period of two weeks he was able to convince her he was a successful businessman on a trip to London engaged in a business deal that would lead to a substantial return on his investment. He proposed marriage to her in a face time conversation and vowed to marry her on his return to the United States. A day later he contacted her and advised that he needed $10,000 as the last piece to consummate the deal in London. She was actually in the process of selling her car when her friends contacted Talon and requested an intervention. We were able to intervene and scare off the predator.
In another case a very successful lady met a man on line and over the course of a month he charmed her into meeting him in Las Vegas. He was attractive, and very charming. He told her he was a successful doctor and even showed her scars on his torso that he claimed he incurred in a rocket attack when he served as an Army doctor in Iraq. After she married him she discovered that everything he told her was false information. She is now attempting to get an annulment, and he has turned into stalking and harassing her.
So how do you protect yourself and actually meet a quality person on line?
First, after developing a rapport, ask pertinent specific questions of the person that can be verified, such as where the person resides, where they grew up, and whether they have been previously married. Do not be afraid to let the person know that you intend to verify their information before the relationship enters into another phase. If the person appears hesitant to provide specific information it is because they are a “Catfish” and pretending to be someone they aren’t. After you have some specific information, run a check on them with a service like Talon to validate the information provided by the person.
If the preliminary information checks out and the person wants to meet you, pick a place that is public and park away from the location so he/she can’t obtain your license plate. Make it a point to arrive early so you can observe them arrive. You should watch to determine if they display any peculiarities, or abnormal behavioral characteristics before you make contact with them. Observe how they are dressed, and their demeanor to see if it meets your expectations.
Lastly, be hesitant to “jump” into a relationship with someone you have met on line. Remember, you have not grown up with this person and there is a lot you do not know that needs to be validated before you commit to the next level of the relationship.
Ron Williams, CEO