Despite the pitfalls, more relationships starting online

Despite the pitfalls, more relationships starting online

Accounts are routed through numerous locations utilizing pay-per-hour Internet cyber cafes, which makes finding the crook and getting money back difficult, if not impossible.

Safety tips

  • Do not wire money to someone you have not met in person. Be wary of warp-speed proclamations of love, particularly if they are accompanied by pleas for cash.
  • Be suspicious if you never get to actually speak with the person on the phone or are told they will not receive letters in the mail. Legitimate servicemen and women serving overseas will often have an APO or FPO in their mailing address.
  • Do not send money or ship property to a third party or company, especially to parties or companies in an African country.
  • If you think you have been scammed by an individual claiming to be a member of the U.S. military, contact your local law enforcement agency or the FBI.

And more than ever, you have to be careful out there

If you’ve had a bad experience with online dating, here’s some more bad news. A relationship expert suggests it’s the way people get together now. The numbers are in online dating’s favor.

“There are 54 million single Americans today,” said Wichita State University’s Deborah Ballard-Reisch, who has researched the subject of communication and relationships for about 20 years. “Forty million of them are online in one way or another. You have a better chance of meeting Mr. or Ms. Right today than you ever have.”

“The few guys I did chat with were clearly looking for flings,” she wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post. “Also, I have noticed that since signing up, they don’t send emails telling me when someone has flirted or sent emails like before I signed up (I guess they have my money now). I wish I had spent my $80 on a new pair of shoes!”

Maybe Viola would have better luck if she joined activities at church or took a class. You might meet someone with common interests but that universe is small compared to the online world.

Less in-person contact

“We used to develop romantic relationships with people we went to school with or knew through church, or family or friends introduced us to, and now we supplement that by meeting people online,” Ballard-Reisch said. “And the world of people available to us has exploded exponentially because of that.”

But that’s not always a good thing. While the opportunity to get to know others has increased because of online dating, Ballard-Reisch says people need to be aware of some of the risks. One of the biggest, mentioned frequently in ConsumerAffairs posts about dating sites, is fraud.

“This site is full of scammers,” complained Chris, of Milwaukee. “I have been asked for money by subscribers several times. I see the same members posting under a different username.”

“There are a number of international consortiums that get on online dating sites and pretend to be someone they’re not in order to get money out of people,” Ballard Reisch said. “So if someone asks you to send them money, especially out of the country, run.”

Language clues

“One of the things to look out for in online dating is that, when people claim language fluency and then they have grammar and syntax and spelling errors, if their language doesn’t seem right, it likely isn’t,” Ballard-Reisch.

Even if you are convinced the person you are striking up a relationship with is who they appear to be, it’s wise to take nothing for granted. Sadly, it’s guilty until proven innocent.

“This might sound coarse, but so much information is available to us online now, if you’re thinking of meeting someone you have met only online, Google them,” Ballard-Reisch said. “Use multiple search engines. Consider seeking criminal background checks. Make sure that people are who they say they are.”

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