Online dating is a mega success, and it’s not uncommon these days to know someone or hear about someone who has even married a person they met via online dating. What was first somewhat embarrassing to admit, is not a part of our culture, and online dating is now a common practice in countries around the world. Almost all developed countries are using internet match-making services in masses. Dallas, Texas-based Match.com alone has reportedly over 20 million members worldwide , and websites serving 25 countries in 8 different languages. This industry is serious business, and gay online dating is perhaps the fast growing demographic of online dating services, with new gay online dating sites popping up each month. Private investigators and law enforcement, correspondingly, have reported a sharp rise in internet scams and fraud affecting gay online dating subscribers, and say a dating background check is essential.
Internet criminals and scam operations are concentrated in countries like Russia, the Ukraine, Malaysia, the Philippines, Nigeria, Ghana, the U.K. and South Africa, among many others. With easy money on the table, and a global economic slump impacting most countries, scamming via the internet is too easy to pass up for many criminals. Complicating matters further, identifying and locating criminals operating from internet cafes who often use proxy servers can be a difficult task, one that law enforcement struggles to deal with. Private investigators believe gay online dating subscribers could be easier targets, on average, because they are relatively new to the online dating field, and criminals think they may not be aware of all the risks and red flags. Experts say it’s important for consumers to realize that no website, whether it’s an online dating site or social networking site, is immune from fraud. Match-making websites have no effective way to screen all members, and have stated that it’s up to subscribers of the site to watch out for the warning signs, and to get a background check when necessary. More and more people are connecting to a new friend or potential partner via the internet, and in many cases, such relationships are international. Gay online dating users should consider international background checks as a form of insurance or protection against romance scams and fraud, and all relationships begun via the internet should be verified to avoid being a victim.
Sites like Facebook and Match.com and countless others aren’t going away anytime soon, and in fact are a huge success in connecting people online and off-line. There’s no question about the benefits of sharing ideas, making new friends, and even finding love on the internet. Experts say it’s a wise decision to take advantage of these services while being aware of the potential risk for scam and fraud. Private investigators say that in many cases, a photo can be taken from an internet profile (there are billions of photos online) of a real person, and even use public records to assign a real address and background info on the fake or stolen identity. The result? It can be very hard to verify the identity of someone met via the internet. In many cases, a professional investigation or background check firm is required to screen for fraud.
Be safe and be skeptical when starting relationships online. Verify, and then decide.
Best of luck,
© 2011 A. Hathaway