Online Dating - The Dangers
By: Rhonda Lucas
These WARNINGS are from my OWN experiences with Online Dating and I want to put the word out to all who use, or are thinking about using, an online dating service. Although I am a female and my experience has been with men only, the following tactics, I am sure, can also be employed by women.
Do NOT believe everything they state in their profile.
My experience has been that men will say what they KNOW a woman wants to hear. Don't get me wrong, there ARE some truly loving and sincere men out there in search of a sincere and loving woman. But nine times out of ten, they are in search of one of five (sometimes all five) things: 1.) Sex 2.) A needy and lonely woman who they can charm into marrying them, so they will have someone to cook and clean for them. or 3.) A Mom for their children. 4.) To charm you and then scam you out of money. 5.) Immigration to the United States.
Many men and women will lie and say they are widowed and tell you that their wife died of cancer, or in a tragic automobile accident. Again, SOME men are truthful, but don't automatically assume that they are telling the truth. They may just want you to feel sorry for them, and this lets them into your heart.
It has also been my experience that men will tailor their profile to resemble YOUR profile. For example, when you initially set up your profile, you are encouraged to express the things that you desire in an ideal partner. Consequently, they write their profile in such a way that your reaction is "Wow, I found a perfect match!" So you send them a "flirt" and they immediately respond and now the process has begun.
Beware of "broken English"!
This one, I think is a new danger that has just become a problem the last several years.
A woman or man writes like they speak. So if a person is writing in broken English, uses wrong past tense or present tense verbs, cannot spell words correctly, repeatedly uses improper grammar and sentence punctuation (often times there is NO punctuation), run on sentences and fragmented sentences, then a red flag should go up!
They may not even be living in the United States, but they may be targeting unsuspecting, lonely, trusting persons, in an effort to gain their confidence then move in for the kill. By that, I mean they "strike", with whatever their purpose was when they first contacted you.
Some may be wanting to know how much money you make, to later on down the road, see if they can talk you out of some of it. They may be wanting to see if you have life insurance, especially if you are a Senior, real estate, anything. Don't reveal too much about your personal life. After you've known them, met them, met their friends and family and been able to verify some of what they have told you, THEN, continue to be cautious. Some people are willing to wait one or two years to gain your confidence.
Let me share with you what happened to me.
I befriended what I will call a "foreigner". He was either not born in, or not originally from, the United States. He may even have been living in another country and pretending to be a U.S. resident. Several days later after looking into it further, I found that he had set up different profiles under different names, but he used the same picture in all of the profiles. Each profile showed that he lived in different states.
He gained my confidence, and one night we were online instant messaging on Yahoo and he said he had a friend there with him that wanted to set up an account/profile on the online dating website where he and I met. He stated that HE was unable to do it for his friend because he was having problems with his computer, and asked ME if I could log on and set the profile up for his friend. He said he would give me the information to input. I trusted him, he seemed sincere, so I said "Sure, I'll do it for you."
He gave me the information and when it came to paying for the subscription, he had to give me the credit card to which to charge it. He gave me the Card Holder's name and billing address zip code, the Credit Card number, expiration and the Card Verification Number on the back of the card. Well, the card was declined. He acted surprised that it had been declined. But said his friend had another credit card he wanted to try to asked me if I would be so kind as to try THAT credit card. I said "sure". Well, that card was declined also. So he said he wanted to try one more card. Well, that one finally went through.
Then, he said he had another friend on his way over, who wanted to sign up on a different dating site for Big Beautiful Women. So I said, okay but this is the last one I'm doing tonight. Well that card was declined and I told him,"I'm done, I am NOT doing this any more." He said "please, just one more." I THEN asked him "Why are all of these credit cards from all over the country?" He paused for a long time, then responded "I just don't know." I said "BYE" and I have not let him contact me since.
After I ran the second "declined" credit card, I immediately became suspicious, but I did not let on that I was, because I did not want to scare him off. All the credit cards had different names and different billing address zip codes than the zip code his profile SAID he was from. I found out the next day after browsing through the website, that he was trying to set up different profiles, with the same picture and with different states as his residence.
I reached the conclusion that he was using ME to run credit card numbers to see if they would be declined or not. If they were accepted, then he knew he could go use them to purchase things without suspicion. But I also realized that running those credit card numbers could be traced back to ME! Since I did not want to be convicted of credit card fraud, I called the local police department and reported the incident the following morning. The officer said, since I didn't have any of the credit card numbers to give him (Who knew I should have saved the numbers?), he really couldn't conduct an investigation. He also told me that many of these people, don't even live in the United States and are foreigners who set up shop in Canada and other countries. He advised me to file a complaint on the website: www.ic3.gov, which I immediately did.
www.ic3.gov is where a person can report Internet Crime. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).
By the time I had filed the complaint on www.ic3.gov, the man had deleted all the profiles that he had created. So he knew I was on to him, OR he no longer needed the profiles, since his only purpose was to see if the cards were valid.
The most important thing you can do before you file a complaint with IC3, is to save anything and everything you can that is linked to your complaint. I had a phone number, a yahoo email address, a copy of the profile he had from one of the dating sites and a name. I saved all my emails and still have the messages he sent me stored on the dating website.
So, MY ADVISE is: If you are going to use, one or several dating sites, save EVERYTHING. Save ALL your messages from potential dating matches AND especially save all communications from anyone you have begun dating from one those dating websites, AND report suspected fraudulent activity immediately.
One more tactic I have seen employed by "foreigners". Since their OWN English is "broken", and so as not to APPEAR foreign, they will copy and paste portions of other men's profiles into their own profile. The reason I know they were copied and pasted is because I found the profile they came from and they were exactly "word for word", including spelling and punctuation errors. Another dead give away that the words were not their own, is when they have to write you a message to make initial contact, they have to tailor it to fit your profile, so they are FORCED to use their "broken English". Therefore, be aware of this and compare the style of writing they use when messaging you, to the the style of writing they used in their profile.
One more thing, "foreigners" will also copy and paste ANOTHER man's desires of the perfect partner, into a message to YOU. Hence, their message will be a combination of 'broken English" and simple plagiarism. These people are being deceptive from the 'get go', don't even START communicating with these types.
Do NOT respond to those who want to get acquainted only by e-mail and NOT through the dating website.
Since there is an abundance of sophisticated equipment out there to hack into a person's email account, don't give ANYONE on these websites, your personal e-mail address. Email is a great way to communicate nowadays, therefore, it is best to create an email account specifically for communicating with online daters.
Also, if you have given them your personal/private email address, they can use it to send you spam or junk mail. I don't know about YOU, but I already get enough Junk emails, that I don't need any more sent to me.
Always meet in a public place, especially on the first date.
This is another experience that happened to me. I went against my better judgment and let a man pick me up at my apartment building to go have lunch. After all, we were meeting in broad daylight and having lunch at Cracker Barrel. Innocent enough right? After we ate lunch he said he wanted to show me his place. He seemed nice, so I said "sure." He showed me around his HUGE house, then we went down to his basement, we sat down on his couch to talk, and THEN it started. He started pawing at me and trying to get me to have sex with him. He didn't FORCE himself on me, but he was relentless in his efforts. I kept thinking to myself, I can't make him mad or he may rape me or something. I was adamant about not wanting his advances but not 'mean' about it, so as not to anger him. Finally he did take me home and I was never so thankful to finally be home. Needless to say, I stopped all communication with him. He didn't want a meaningful relationship, he just wanted to have sex.
Don't ever think, 'oh that can never happen to me.' Yes, it CAN. Yes, it does happen! All too often. Don't become a statistic. Online dating can be DANGEROUS! But don't feel bad men, because women can be just as bad, sometimes worse.
LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST
To many of us out there, these last few warnings may seem obvious, but to the naïve it is EXTREMELY important for you to be aware of these.
1.) On the first few dates, it is a good idea to MEET the person in a very public place. You don't want them knowing where you live yet.
2.) Just steer clear of a long distance relationship. Statistics show that the majority of long distance relationships do not last. Also, with long distance relationships, you develop a friendship with the person they TELL you they are. They could be lying to you, but because of the distance between you, you are forced to take them at their word. Most people are deceptive about weight, age, ethnicity and health.
3.) Go with you 'gut' feelings. If something in your gut is telling you that this person may not be telling the truth, or may be hiding something important, DO NOT continue communicating with them. More times than not, our 'gut' feeling or our instinct is a good indicator of danger.
4.) Do not under ANY circumstances introduce any online dates to your children, until you have known them for a while and have had a chance to verify that they ARE who they say they are. And DO NOT trust them to be alone with your children, until you have gotten to know them very well.
It is a shame that we live in a world where we have to constantly be on guard from all types of predators. But it has become more apparent with each passing day, that predators are coming up with more sophisticated and more insidious ways to deceive and/or harm us and our families.
All I can say is: educate yourself before you embark on ANY adventure, don't be naïve. Stay one step ahead of the predator.
For those of you who are sincerely looking for a soulmate, partner or casual friendship, I wish you all the best in your search, for I firmly believe that there is someone out there for each one of us. It won't be easy finding that special someone, but it is worth the effort.
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