Online Dating and Security
Every year, millions of women visit online dating websites, hoping to make a connection with someone who shares their same morals, values, and interests. But as today’s news reports show, criminals also use these sites to find unsuspecting victims.
In an article posted by NBCNews.com, a Las Vegas woman filed a lawsuit against Match.com, alleging that the online dating site was negligent in their failure to warn against the dangers of online dating. In September 2010, the woman agreed to meet in person with a man she had met through the popular dating site. While the initial meeting went well, the woman ended the relationship with the man after dating him for ten days, at which point she began receiving harassing and threatening messages from him. A few months later, the man brutally attacked the woman in her garage, stabbing her multiple times with a butcher knife and stomping on her head until he believed the victim to be dead. The woman survived, however, which took months of hospitalization and multiple surgeries to recover.
In another article released by NBCSanDiego.com, a woman was raped by a man she had met through the online dating site, ChristianMingle.com. After weeks of texting back and forth and sharing in conversations about God, the woman felt it was safe to invite the man to her apartment for their first in-person meeting. Shortly after his arrival, the man pulled the woman into her bedroom and raped her.
Other Online Dating Safety and Security Risks
Being brutally attacked or raped by a violent criminal isn’t the only risk women expose themselves to when they take to online dating sites. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), criminals also use online dating and social media sites to scam women out of money.
In a recent article issued by FBI.gov, San Diego, these scam artists often disguise themselves as American men who are working or traveling abroad. But the majority of them are actually foreign criminals who live overseas. Their preferred targets are divorced, widowed, or disabled women over the age of 40. However, the FBI warns that every demographic and age group is at risk of falling prey to this scam, including men.
The way the scam works is the predator establishes an alias and phony profile through an online dating or social media site. After making contact with his selected victim, he spends weeks or months building the relationship, chatting and emailing back and forth. He may even send a small gift or flowers on occasion to make things appear all the more real. The purpose of this well-crafted courtship is not for friendship or love, however, but for money. Once the relationship is well established, the predator makes up a story about an unfortunate event that has caused him a financial hardship. Feeling sorry for him, the woman sends him money to help him out of his bind. But the hardships don’t stop there—nor do the requests to send money, mail packages, and cash checks for him. Such checks, however, are actually part of a money-laundering scheme.
How to Protect Yourself Against the Safety and Security Pitfalls of Online Dating
The number one safety and security pitfall that women fall prey to is thinking that the unfortunate crimes discussed in the above-mentioned articles could never happen to them.
As every security expert like myself knows, crimes like these don’t just happen to women of a certain age or demographic. Every woman who puts herself out there in the online dating scene is at risk, especially those who take their safety and security for granted. While many of the mistakes women make are unintentional, their innocent shortcomings are often what make them prime victims of horrible crimes.
Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be your fate. By educating yourself and avoiding the safety and security mistakes women make when dating online, you can drastically reduce your risk of falling prey to an online predator. Here are three of the most common online dating mistakes women make that you need to avoid:
- Assuming a man who is kind, polite, funny, and/or good looking is trustworthy. Unfortunately, criminals don’t come with labels that say, “I’m a con artist” or “I’m a rapist” or “I’m a murderer.” They can be just as innocent looking, attractive, polite, and kind as your local firefighter. In fact, many criminals have mastered their “good guy” persona to an art. It is for this reason that women have to be extra vigilant with men they don’t know. Never place your trust in the hands of a stranger, no matter how innocent, nice, or good looking he appears.
- Providing personal information about yourself too early in the relationship. With today’s online technology, it’s very easy to locate a person’s address and place of employment simply by typing their full name into a search engine. It is for this reason that you have to be very careful about how much information you share with the men you meet online. Beware of anyone who wants to know your full name, where you live, where you work, what gym you belong to, or other personal identifying information early on. If he continues to pry for your personal information, take it as a warning sign and end all contact with him.
- Allowing yourself to be alone with a man you don’t know. If there is a golden rule when it comes to online dating for women, it is to NEVER allow yourself to be alone with a man you don’t know. If you agree to meet a man for the first time that you’ve only gotten to know through an online dating service, make certain those first few dates take place in a highly public setting. If you can, have a friend tag along with you, even if it’s to observe from afar. At the very least, inform a friend or family member of your date, along with where you’re going and other details about the man you’re meeting, including his online profile, phone number, and email address if you have it.
As mentioned, violent criminals aren’t the only predators you have to protect yourself against. Online dating sites also place women at risk of being scammed out of money. According to the FBI, some of the tell-tale clues that your online suitor is a scam artist are as follows:
- He claims to be a U.S. citizen who is working, traveling, or deployed overseas.
- The photographs displayed in the person’s online profile or sent to you depict an extremely attractive man, comparable to that of a fashion model.
- He expresses an intense attraction and feelings of love for you early on in your online relationship.
- He encourages you early on to communicate outside of the online dating site you met through.
- He makes arrangements to meet you but fails to do so due to one excuse or another.
- He begins hinting or asking for money to pay for an unexpected financial burden.
- You should also beware of anyone who asks you about your personal information, such as your address, date of birth, social security number, driver’s license number, etc. Revealing this information can put you at risk for identify theft.
While it’s not in your best interest to share your full name and other personal information with a man you don’t know, it is EXTREMELY important that you find out all you can about the guy you’re considering dating as early as possible. At the very least, you should know his full name, age, and what city he lives in. Using that information, you can have a background check performed to find out if he has any type of criminal record. There are numerous online companies that provide this service at affordable prices.
When it comes to your safety, there is only one person you can depend on and that’s you. So don’t take your safety and security for granted. Stay vigilant and keep the online dating lessons you've learned from this article in the front of your mind and spread the word to other women you know who may also be at risk.
Jordan Frankel, commonly known as The Security Sensei develops revolutionary security products and solutions that protect both lives & property. Countless agencies and corporations such as NASDAQ, the US Military, and law enforcement entrust Mr. Frankel with their security and safety. Jordan Frankel is also frequent media guest addressing the personal and financial consequences associated with home invasions, burglaries and other serious threats. In addition, Mr. Frankel's security products & inventions have been featured on Oprah, FOX news and in countless publications. Jordan's ability to outsmart the proverbial bad guys - coupled with his commitment to making security an affordable reality for everyone is the key to Global Security Experts Inc success. Mr. Frankel (The Security Sensei) is available for media interviews by appointment only.
Mr. Frankel is a proud member of:
The American Society for Industrial Security.
The International Association for Counter Terrorism & Security.
The Society of Professional Locksmiths.