April 11, 2012

People join dating sites for numerous and varied reasons. Those who think have nothing to offer but their minds to attract someone, those who feel safer in an all singles’ environment, and those who are tired of the awkwardness of meeting in real life, and those who want free, and those who want to meet someone who lives outside of their immediate area. Some are looking for love, others are looking for a good time. Others are simply lonely and looking for a friend. And, last but not least, some are criminals who hope to cash in on every honest person they can find.

Online dating sites appeal to many people from all over the world with internet access, busy schedules, and who are searching for a companion, friendship, marriage, and old fashioned love and romance. A partner for life. Experts say it is this high hope or optimism and loneliness, i.e. vulnerability that can land subscribers in a world of trouble. Internet criminals know exactly which buttons to push, and how to gain your trust. Romance scams are now widespread.

In the past sixteen years we have seen all kinds of stories, from people who fell in love with a fake person which was a fake profile taken from a real person, or a beautiful women abroad who only wanted immigration, and after marriage there was soon to be a disaster and divorce, ending in financial ruin. Others have planned for marriage, only to have their identity stolen and bank accounts drained, ending in serious emotional and financial stress. Make no mistake, romance scams are devastating and no laughing matter for victims. Often victims say they never saw it coming, and never got a background check investigation by a reputable investigator.

Dating websites know the risks and of course they are aware of the damage made to a sizeable number of their users, but they limit their liability and responsibility by offering privacy policies and disclaimers that say they are not responsible. After all, dating sites are in the business of bringing people together, not in the business of determining who is real and who is a fraud, or who is a criminal and who is not. That is the business of a professional private investigation firm with international offices and resources. Investigators can verify the ID, passport, documents, employment and education, and screen the case for fraud as part of the investigation.

The only way to know who the person on the other side of the monitor is, is by conducting a professional and in depth international background check. Media, law enforcement and private investigators have been warning consumers and internet users increasingly during the last few years about the risk for romance scams, and surprisingly, the number keeps growing. As consumers get wiser, so do the crooks. The blame game continues and many victims and advocacy groups are pointing the finger at the dating sites, but the trust is there is no way to effectively screen the millions of users. In the end, it is up to the user to know the red flags, watch out for the warning signs, and when in doubt, contact an international investigator.

All the best,

S. Birch
© 2012 S. Birch

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