Recently CBS reported that a San Jose woman was bilked out of $500,000 by a Nigerian scam artist on a dating website. According to reports, the 66-year-old woman was conned out of her money through a meeting on ChristianMingle.com. What does this say to women and men trying to find love using online dating?
Deputy District Attorney Cherie Bourland warns that this story should be a warning to any single person who is online dating. Bourland said getting conned is unfortunately not that unusual, especially for singles who are lonely and ready to find a fun dating partner or life mate. “You get the love drug in you and you end up getting duped,” Bourland said.
Unfortunately, once most victims have wired money to con artists it’s too late. Most of them never get their money back after they have been conned. So what should you do if you are considering online dating? The first bit of advice is never loan money to anyone online, especially if you have never met in person.
Online dating doesn’t have to be dangerous
But not sending money to someone you do not know is just the first step to protecting yourself while online dating. If you don’t want to end up in tomorrow’s headlines, you will need to be careful to protect yourself from online predators.
What’s the first step? Experts recommend that when you begin online dating you should always keep your personal information private. This includes your address, home telephone number, financial information, work information, and even your last name. If you feel pressured to provide too much information too fast, this should be a red flag. Make sure your potential dating partner respects your personal boundaries.
Next, you might want to set up a separate anonymous phone line or email account to receive and send information to a new acquaintance. Experts also suggest keeping yourself anonymous by first using instant messenger, conversing through email, or talking on the phone.
If you do want to meet face to face, this is fine, but make sure you meet in a public place. Some experts also suggest a first meeting should be done with a friend or family member. If that feels too weird then at the very least let someone else know where you are going and when they should expect you to return home.
Next, if you do not know your date it may be best to agree to meet at the location of your first date so if the date does not go well they do not have your home address and you have the flexibility to leave.
Should I let them meet my children?
It might not be fair to keep the existence of your children private for too long, but you should make sure that if you are online dating you do not compromise the safety of your children. For instance, there is no reason to share private information about your children to anyone on a first date.
Finally, if you are online dating trust your instincts. If something feels wrong- it just might be. If you spot any of the traditional red flags it’s best to end contact.
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