WOW, I got a lot of feedback on my post earlier in the week about the Dangers of online dating. So, I thought a little follow-up was in order — an opportunity to share some of the horror stories that flooded my inbox.
Dangers of Online Dating
I heard about a serious con from one 50+ woman. She “met” a man on Match.com and they started chatting on AOL (I didn’t even know that service still existed). They shared long chats and exchanged emails over a couple of weeks.
He grew increasingly enamored with her through their conversations, but they were not able to meet as he was out of the country on a business trip — due to return in a few weeks. Their conversations became more intimate and they made concrete plans to meet once he return. They even talked on the phone several times despite the high cost of international telephone calls.
During the 2 weeks, he showered her with gifts — one day 3 dozen red roses, another day chocolates. He even sent an expensive bottle of Dom Perignon champagne to share on the day he returned.
Suddenly, trouble appeared. He said trouble occurred with his business venture that would delay his return. Then, he said a devastating problem occurred — one requiring nearly $100,000 to fix. He asked his new paramour for money — swearing he would pay her back within a few days once repairs were made and he was paid for the project.
Of course, she refused and had no further conversations with the man. But, she was hurt by the entire episode.
I heard similar stories from several other women who contacted me after the original post.
In most cases the amount requested was much smaller and the appearance of gifts was somewhat rare, but the essence the same. Men are preying on women through these dating sites.
What should Match.com do to protect users on its dating site?
Certainly, the problem occurs on other dating sites, but the one I heard about most was Match.com. The victims felt Match.com didn’t do enough to protect them online. Match.com relies on other users to report abuse. Once abuse is reported, Match.com quickly blocks the offender and takes down their profile.
But is this enough?
Certainly, Match.com (or any other dating site) can’t afford to do background checks on everyone who signs up for an account. Not only would this dramatically increase the cost of their services, but would reflect a potential invasion of the users’ privacy.
But, taking down an offender’s profile does little to protect women he’s/ she’s already contacted. And, a missing profile doesn’t really raise any red flags since there are many legitimate reasons a profile might be unavailable
So, what can dating sites do to protect users?
I believe dating sites should contact users approached by the offender. A simple message such as:
We removed (username)’s profile after a report from another user. While the claims may not be valid, we urge caution in any future communication with (username).
Similarly, con men (and women) who have their profile removed can easily create another profile and start their cons all over again. Match.com could easily use tools that block the ability to create profiles from the IP addresses used by offenders. While not foolproof, such tactics can reduce the number of scams on their websites.
What do you think of this situation?
Do you have horror stories related to online dating sites? I’d love to hear from you. Simply send me an email at: email@example.com. Your anonymity is protected.