I had the privilege of meeting Terrie several years ago, and she was kind enough to contact me about the important things she has learned regarding safety and caution when dating. Although I met my husband Tom online, it was many years ago, and there were so many people at our wedding who knew each other it was obvious that the Lord would have had us meet even outside of the Internet. There were online stalking and identity theft problems back then, but there are even more today.I do not recommend online dating sites, especially not the free ones. Terrie's post is a must read.
On Line Dating: WARNING!
bRoKeN Hearts and Busted Wallets Ahead!
by Terrie Krumal
Losing a spouse can be a debilitating event that can affect us for weeks, months or even years (honestly, I don’t think we ever get over it or get used to it). We all react so differently to that life event, but one trait is very common. Until the “fog” clears, our brains don’t quite connect, analyze or warn us when there is eminent danger. This is such a well known fact that the dating scammers and con men specifically target widows. The cons know just what to say and in such a caring way, that it catches a person off guard (just check with the BBB regarding door to door sales). If we are not analyzing all information the scammer/con men have shared with us, we become easy prey.
Let me pause here for just a moment and explain that I thought I would be writing these words to caution women regarding online dating, but after talking to several people, this information needs to apply to ALL ways of meeting men.
There are ways to meet men--at church, at exercise class, at the grocery store or at stained glass workshops and we assume that they are harmless and are the safest way to go. But that's not necessarily the case. They are maybe a little safer than online meetings, but those areas noted above still have con artists and scammers and not-so-nice guys. We must keep in mind that scammers/con men are out there in great numbers and are getting very sophisticated in their relationships. It behooves us to educate ourselves in preparation for meeting ANY man and steel our resolves on how we connect with them and what we share with them.
Several celebrities such as Dr. Phil have previously covered the topic of online dating pointing out the perils of most of the websites. When Dr. Phil presented the facts of the scam, some women refused to believe him. This was even when faced with the truth!
Many dating websites give alerts to the dangers that may lurk in their website and how to avoid them. The Federal Trade Commission devotes a large segment on their website to the scams of dating websites This is a great indicator of how elevated this issue has become. The victims are now in the tens of thousands.
But when you watch TV or talk to others who have had a good online experience, it’s hard to keep in mind the dangers that may lie ahead. We may become so desperate that we ignore those dangers even when we sense something inside us warning us to run the other way!!
So with all that in mind (and my previous employment experience as a consumer credit counselor who cautioned people on many scams), I felt I was educated enough to come up against the scammers and not fall for their tricks. I felt I could sort the good from the bad and the ugly!!
Boy was I wrong!
So right now I want to stop and say if you have been scammed or in a relationship that may be a scam please STOP and talk to a friend, a pastor, or a trusted counselor. Please don’t be embarrassed or hesitant to talk to someone now. You need to seek the wisdom and discernment of a trusted individual.
How do these people break down our barriers and succeed in taking advantage of us?
They shower you with loving words, they desire to meet you soon and they aspire to “lay the world at your feet.”(Sorry. but when you are a widow and you haven’t heard those words or felt that way for some time its very easy to fall for their approach). They build up the relationship and your trust in them. Then they ask for money. Oh, not for themselves (of course!), but for a “sick child,” or gifts for orphans (really!), or a struggling business.
Or they ask for your address so they can send you gifts and flowers. But what comes are delinquent bills, money laundering scams, the transfer of stolen goods, or even bank fraud. If you start to question them they usually get defiant and angry, or try to turn it around and make you the problem.
The Federal Trade Commission has a wonderful website (www.ftc.gov) with information regarding the scams, what to do if you have become a victim, and many more details. You can file a complaint and if given enough time and details they can catch the thieves. Unfortunately most women are so embarrassed that they never step forward and file a complaint and the scammer is free to prey upon another widow.
The very first piece of advice is NEVER EVER go offsite. Once they convince you to go off the dating website, the scam starts. If you remain on the website, most companies track certain “buzz words” and will advise you of a problem and then block the culprit. You are safer there than offsite but you still have to remain diligent and cautious in your contacts. Be very careful with the information that you share with others. You don’t need to share everything with them no matter what they say (I actually made details up when someone was asking too much information—another warning sign).
In conclusion, put your life in Gods hands and He will guide you. He has a plan for your life, and if there is another man for you, He will make it happen. I hope that doesn’t sound trite, but being in your same situation I have come to the conclusion that it will happen in God's time. I just have to stop what I am doing and trust Him. After all he is a Good God and He loves us.