Monday, April 2, 2007

A rough guide for dating online, and avoiding fraud.

Welcome to the world of online dating. The Internet romance and match-making business has existed since the early days of the web, but only in 2000 did the industry become a major global service. Internet dating website services have gone from an emerging market in 2000 to a full-blown competitive corporate industry with well over $2B USD in revenue at stake annually, as of 2006. As Internet usage and access continue to increase worldwide, as well as a decline in barriers to entry for new competitors, the industry is expected to continue to grow and attract new customers worldwide and maturing in 2010.

Who are the players in this market? Many names have done well establishing their brands early, such as, eHarmony, AmericanSingles, LavaLife and FriendFinder. Smaller and niche dating market sites continue to enter the game, as more and more Internet users are becoming more comfortable online, and therefore more comfortable with the idea of meeting someone special via the Internet. Success stories are out there, but so are the cases of fraud, international scams and big financial losses. More than ever, people are getting involved emotionally with someone they've never met, or someone who lives in another state or country. With this less personal contact comes the need for a professional background check from a confidential firm.

Buyer Beware: A few of the warning signs
Be skeptical and exercise caution if the individual:
1. Claims to be working, traveling or living in Nigeria.
2. Falls in love quickly, too quickly without reason.
3. Suddenly has an emergency, requesting financial aid.
4. Requests assistance with visa, airfare from Russia.
5. Requests financial assistance via Western Union.
6. Sends pictures that appear to be from a magazine.
7. Claims to be from S. Africa, Ghana or the Philippines.

Recommendations: The Basics
These tips could save you time, money and heartache:
1. Don't rush; take your time getting to know someone online.
2. Never give personal information to somone you've never met.
3. Never send money to anyone you have never met in person.
4. Use caution: Philippines, Colombia, Russia, Ghana, Nigeria.
5. If appropriate, use the phone to get to know the person.
6. If meeting the person, always meet in a public, safe place.
7. If progressing, obtain a
professional background check.

Finally, the industry provides more options for more individuals around the world to find friends, romance and meaningful relationships. In this view, online dating is clearly beneficial to consumers. With this new market, however, comes new risks and safety concerns. There are many success stories that have helped fuel the growing trend of Internet dating. Unfortunately, this growth has also been equalled in the number of criminals and professional scammers seeking monetary reward. We stress the need for caution, and if progressing, to obtain the services from a reputable firm such as
Wymoo International for assistance.

All the best and happy hunting,

A. Hathaway

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This copyrighted article was written and published by the editor and site author, A. Hathaway, or other guest private investigator, expert or contributor as noted.