In today’s society there seems to be an increasing use of online dating services like Match.Com, eHarmony.com, Date.com, Chemistry.com, craigslist.org, and FriendFinder.com. And those are only a few. There are hundreds and even thousands of other sites out there to subscribe to.
In this global world of the internet it is estimated that the online dating industry is now worth $4 billion worldwide. Earlier in 2010, Match.com and the research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey[i], released the statistics of a study they conducted on the patterns and habits of online daters. In their study they found that 1 in 5 singles have dated someone that they met on a dating site. The study further indicated that in last three years 17% of couples who married met on an online dating site. There’s even an industry conference called, “I-Date 2010” to help industry leaders facilitate and promote their online dating sites.
OK, so we as a society are using the internet more often to find love and companionship. But is it completely safe to do so? Unfortunately, the answer is, “No.”
Take for instance the case of New York’s 24 year old Philip Markoff. He’s also known as, “The Craigslist Killer.” Markoff was a medical student at Boston University who lured a woman into meeting him after connecting on craigslist and then murdered her.
Or if you like fraud scams, how many stories have you heard about people being duped for money? The scam goes like this: The scammer sends a mass message with an attractive photo or photos, and solicits connections with victims. The victims are befriended and at some point the scammer asks the victim to send money for a plane ticket so they can all meet (or maybe another reason). The reason these scams work is because the victim’s emotions are manipulated.
What are some tips and advice that can be given to not be taken prey and victimized in the course of online dating? Well, I’m sure we’ve all heard the rules – ad nauseum. Don’t give out your personal information. When you meet somebody from an online dating site have a 3rd party standing by to come rescue you if needed. Don’t get so attached or involved up front in the initial phases of the relationship that you let your guard drop and your safety goes out the window. Don’t say anything, or respond to anything, that could get you in trouble down the road. And, as always, “buyers beware….”
Now, enter the background check. Hedge your bets and increase your safety! Before you meet somebody from a connection online know who it is exactly you’re dealing with. Solicit the services of a licensed Private Investigator that specializes in background checks. Don’t waste your time with one of the many $19.95 websites that offer online background checks. Those sites merely present you with inaccurate and outdated information that you most likely could’ve gotten yourself for free. Get with a professional in the field.
In the course of getting to know these people online you’ve gotten to know a little bit about them, or at least what they are claiming to be. You have a screen name or username that can be traced, probably an email address too, a name, a city that they claim to live in, their occupation, their claimed level of education, and what they like to do for fun…. That’s more than enough to start. With that a Private Investigator can begin to put the pieces together usually in no time at all. With those identifying factors a skilled Private Investigator can confirm the story you’re being told. It needs to also be understood that by licensure a Private Investigator has greater access to information that the public is not always privy to. The Investigator should be able to draw some sort of conclusion and come to a conclusion. Even if no definitive criminal history is uncovered, a Private Investigator should have the experience to formulate an opinion based upon their investigator that gives you the peace of mind to know whether this person you’re connecting with is a good or bad risk to venture down the road of happy destiny with.
Before you embark online in search of love and life, get to know the medium you’re operating within. Know its strengths and weaknesses. Don’t stick your head into the sand. Be aware of the possibilities and potentialities. Make every effort you can to get to know the person you are connecting with online before you meet them face to face.