by Eileen Park
(U.S.A.) With over 50 million users, online dating is showing no signs of slowing down. But with its increasing popularity, risks of meeting someone misrepresenting who they really are, is increasing as well.
Lisa of Raleigh, didn’t want to be identified. But she did want to tell us her story. She said, “I’ve met some dangerous people that were not what they represented themselves to be. He [Len] was very charming to begin with and within 72 hours, the real person emerged. The horrible person.”
Lisa’s talking about a man she met on Facebook and a dating website called "Plenty of Fish". She said she went against her better judgment and invited the man -- Len -- to her home just a few weeks ago, then went into his car for a ride.
That was when things went downhill. “Len, took me out and threatened to put me out a major interstate, that was very scary” Lisa explained.
Len was someone she was attracted to online, but he ended up being a completely different in person. Lisa, like millions of other women, often decide to go on date, based on their gut instincts.
But Online Dating Expert Julie Spira says, instinct is not enough. She explained, “People make up even where they work and what they’ve done for a living or even if they have a college degree or not...”
Dating experts say, go a step further. Invest in a criminal background service. We checked out a new service called LUVFAX.com that charges $30 a report and asked Lisa to give us the names of three of her worst dates. One by one, we plugged their information in. Two of names came out clean. One name, did not.
Len, the date who tried to kick Lisa out of his car in the middle of a highway, had a criminal history, with multiple pending felonies. Something he failed to mention to Lisa.
Julie Spira, Author of “The Perils of Cyber Dating” says this kind of misrepresentation happens all the time. Often it’s innocent, like a person’s height or their weight. But increasingly a person will try to hide their criminal history. Spira said, “We know that 1 out of 10 sexual predators are using online dating services now. But the online dating sites take this very very seriously.”
So we asked the biggest online dating websites how they’re protecting their users. E-Harmony sent this statement to NBC17. “First, we have industry-leading technology and full-time staff dedicated to monitoring the quality and integrity of the user base. Second, we provide our members with a number of ways to report suspicious or harmful behavior so we can investigate and take appropriate action.”
E-Harmony says they check the names of users in the States, against public sex offender registries.
BEST defense? Don't do Online Dating at all! Users of dating sites change their names, their data - all the time. See Ed Hicks for a perfect example.
Dating sites take action? They remove them from the site so the person comes back with a new IP, new name and is back doing it again. These sites have no real way to check or deal with anything. They are simply worried of losing business. - EOPC