Kathryn's Blog: Be Safe

The ethics of honesty

Here’s New York Times piece, this time from The Ethicist column that appears weekly in the Sunday magazine section.

A writer asks: I am an H.I.V.-positive man who, thanks to antiretroviral therapy, has had an undetectable viral load for the past three years. I have no sexually transmitted infections. Though I always practice safe sex, I feel an obligation to disclose my status to any potential partner well before engaging in any sexual contact. My doctors disagree, citing evidence that people in my condition are sexually noninfectious. Others make a buyer-beware type of argument. Am I right, or are they?

I don’t know about you, but I was shocked by this letter, and I was not alone. If you follow the link and ready the Ethicist’s answer, click the “Comments” link and read what other readers sent in. Of course, we only know what is written, but assuming everything is true, why would any doctor give this kind of advice? One thing we have learned from the AIDS epidemic is that sex can kill you, and for sure, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you” does not apply to the sexual history of a potential partner.

The real threat of death by one’s sexual behavior has pushed us to learn to talk about uncomfortable matters early on in relationships. That is good.

Secrets are like untreated infections: they make you sick. Nothing is more curative than openness. As the Ethicist writes: “Your doctors can make all the predictions they want, but you — and your partners — have to live with the outcome.”


Match.com is starting to screen for sex offenders

Looks like Match.com is jumping in on screening sign ups on the site.  True.com started that a few years ago and has been behind pushing for screening on dating sites (or posting prominently that the site does not).  True.com’s “movement” was pretty clearly self-serving, a way to get publicity by getting politicians to stump for what True.com was already doing.  It does seem that if some of the danger in online dating can be caught in a screening, then why not? 

The negatives have been the costs, whether the screenings would be comprehensive and meaningful, and whether the customers on dating sites would get a false reassurance of safety and relax their due diligence in screening date partners.

Do not let any claims of safety—anywhere—give you a false sense of security.  See what Match.com says in its own “Terms of Use Agreement”:

7. Your Interactions with Other Members. You are solely responsible for your interactions with other Members. You understand that Match.com does not in any way screen its Members, nor does Match.com inquire into the backgrounds of its Members or attempt to verify the statements of its Members. Match.com makes no representations or warranties as to the conduct of Members or their compatibility with any current or future Members. In no event shall Match.com be liable for any damages whatsoever, whether direct, indirect, general, special, compensatory, consequential, and/or incidental, arising out of or relating to the conduct of you or anyone else in connection with the use of the Service, including without limitation, bodily injury, emotional distress, and/or any other damages resulting from communications or meetings with other registered users of this Service or persons you meet through this Service. You agree to take reasonable precautions in all interactions with other Members of the Service, particularly if you decide to meet offline or in person. In addition, you agree to review Match.com’s Dating Safety Tips prior to using the Service. You understand that Match.com makes no guarantees, either express or implied, regarding your ultimate compatibility with individuals you meet through the Service. You should not provide your financial information (for example, your credit card or bank account information) to other Members.

So proceed with caution, on Match.com or any other site.  You are responsible for your own safety.


Sources for Anonymous Phone Numbers

When you are dating online, it is a good idea to protect your privacy as long as you can, until you have a good basis of trust built up with your cyberdate. Here are some sources for anonymous phone numbers, some completely free but with time restrictions, others that have a fee for minutes and/or texting.  Take your pick:



Are you being scammed by Russians?

RussianScamCheck.com that I wrote about in the last posting (August 31, 2008) has a neat questionnaire that will help you decided if you are being scammed.  The questions alone will help alert you to clues of potential scamming. 

Here are a couple of examples:

2. Did she ask you (or hinted) to send her money for one of the following:
  * Apartment rent
  * Visa or Tickets for trip to you
  * Education
  * Internet cafe expenses or/and telephone bills
  * Illness in the family
  * Anything else that asks for your financial support
5. Does her street address contain: “Lenin street”, “Lenina street” or “Sovetskaya street” ?

If you are communicating with a supposedly Russian woman and want to know if you might be being scammed, this free quiz is a “must do.”


Get smart and protect yourself from scams

Now, if the following piece isn’t enough to put you off those millionaire sites, I don’t know what is.  This guy was able to swindle eight women by posing as a music mogul.  It seems pretty clear that these women assumed that the guy was telling the truth.  Likely, that he had presented himself as rich and that these women were looking for rich (since both were listed on MillionaireMatch) blinded these ladies.  The guy was HOMELESS.  They sent the money to his ex-wife’s address!  A simple background search would have alerted a wise single. 

I’m working all the time to help singles avoid being scammed.  Take a look at my One Page $1 Wonders ...  Not only will you be better able to protect yourself with my concise, digestible reports on scamming, but also, you get a 25% discount from my favorite background checking source, AssetSearchPros.com

Homeless man gets more than $100,000 from online conquests
By Sofia Diogo Mateus
Last updated: 1:17 PM BST 05/06/2008
A homeless man posing as a millionaire was arrested for scamming 13 women for more than $100,000.

Through the website MillionaireMatch.com, Paul Kruger, 50, met and convinced eight women that he was a Grammy-nominated music mogul who had worked with Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones, amongst others.

He met the other five alleged victims through one of the women he met on the website.

Later he said needed money for a CD and DVD manufacturing investment, for which the women sent him a total $102,000.

One of the victims was even shown a false stock reports, the court heard, since the operation apparently involved group investment in stock options.

“He did have a good story,” said one victim, a sales manager in Costa Mesa, Calif., who records show gave him $10,000.

The website, which describes itself as the “number one dating site for succesful singles and admirers”, is free and unregulated and anyone can join and claim to be a millionaire, simply by saying that they win $150,000 or more annually.

Steve Kasper, the marketing vice president of Successfulmatch.com, the parent company of MillionaireMatch.com, both bases in Toronto, said it was up to users to self-police.

“We do tell all of our members on all of our sites that you have to take precautions when you’re on the Internet and looking at people that you’re going to meet,” he said.

Charges were filed in Souderton, Pennsylvania, because that is where he told women to send him money; it is also the address of the home of his ex-wife, authorities said.

The money was used to fuel his gambling addiction, since he had various VIP casino accounts, authorities said.

Mr Krueger declined to comment to reporters as he was arraigned on charges of theft by unlawful taking or disposition, theft by deception, deceptive or fraudulent business practices and Pennsylvania Securities Act violations.

The Californian woman said she was willing to be a witness but that the experience had not put her off online dating.

“You have to be careful whereever you go,” said the woman, who is in her 30s. “You could get scammed meeting someone at a bar. It doesn’t matter. You just have to do your due diligence, and I didn’t.”


Scams, scams, and more scams

Michelle Singletary writes an excellent article about the “Sweetheart Swindle” of which all singles need to be aware.  See below, I have underlined parts of the article that I think are particularly relevant.

Online dating scammers will tugat your heartstrings and wallets

By Michelle Singletary

Thursday, February 14, 2008

If you’re looking online for a sweetheart, beware: You may find a new meaning for the expression “money can’t buy love.”

The National Consumers League has issued a warning to people looking for love on the Internet to watch out for con artists whose only mission is to separate them from their cash.

“Scammers lurk in chat rooms and on online dating sites, attempting to earn someone’s affections and trust so that they can persuade him or her to send money,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League.

The league, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, is calling such scams the “Sweetheart Swindle.” It’s a simple scheme, really. The con artist spends time nurturing a relationship. The goal of this online courtship, Greenberg said, is to eventually get the victim to repeatedly send cash.

Greenberg said the group’s Fraud Center only began tracking this type of scam last summer. However, it’s become so pervasive that the organization says it has moved into its top 10 list of scams. Last year the average lovesick victim lost more than $3,000, according to complaints logged at the center’s Web site (http://www.fraud.org).

The scams vary but the typical swindler will begin to weave a tale of how he (or she) has gotten into a financial jam, Greenberg said. Feeling sorry for their online lover, the victim eventually sends money.

In one case, a woman gave $35,000 to a man she met on Match.com, who claimed he was from her hometown of Kansas City, Mo. He said he worked as an engineer in Nigeria. For four months the two had long online exchanges, much like you have at the beginning of a courtship. He even sent her flowers and professed his love for her.

Then the man began requesting money to pay for medical care for his 11-year-old son, whom he claimed had a congenital heart condition.

It was all a con. Eventually the woman took out a second mortgage on her home to pay off the credit cards she used to get advances to send him money.

“I’m not a stupid woman,” she told me in an interview. “I have a master’s degree. I hold down a good job.”

But, she said, she felt sorry for the kid. “That was where my heart strings were.”

If you’re inclined to be harsh on these victims, don’t be so smug to think this couldn’t happen to you, Greenberg said.

“Scammers are really good at figuring out and preying on the vulnerabilities of the people they are scamming,” she said.

The Consumers League said if you want to avoid heartache from a sweet-talking swindler, look for these red flags:

  * You are being asked for money.

  * There is a confession of love soon after you begin communicating.

  * The person claims to be a U.S. citizen who is living abroad. Or they pump up their professional credentials.

  * The person wants you to help with their business or get involved in a business deal.

    Greenberg advises that you give money only to someone you’ve met in person, have known for a long time and can truly trust.

    I would suggest that you make it a personal money rule not to give or loan a significant amount of cash to anyone you’re romantically interested in.

    If your honey needs money, look at the situation as an opportunity to see how he or she handles a financial crisis. When faced with an unplanned expense, does your Pookey have to resort to borrowing the money?

    Step back from your emotions and you will gain some important information about a person you may view as a potential spouse.

    I’m not saying never give any money to your boo (that’s the hip way of referring to your romantic companion). Of course, you will trade off paying for dates or transferring a little money between the two of you. But I want to emphasize it should be only a little money.

    Whether you are dating in person or online, you should not be paying the person’s rent, car note or any other bill. Don’t give her money to get her hair done. Don’t lend or give him money to fix his car. These are all expenses that your sweetheart should be paying without your help.

    And certainly don’t ever borrow money to help out your sweetie, no matter how desperate the situation seems. If they need financial assistance, help them find another resource.

    Don’t get a cash advance on your credit card. Don’t take a loan against your 401(k). And for goodness sake, don’t borrow against your home.

    Bailing out your boo is not an indication of your love. It’s an indication you’re dating someone who needs to budget or get another job (or a job) or move back home with his or her mama.


How to spot a liar, con man, and character disorder

When we got our new satellite tv system, we got a dvd recorder as part of the package, like a Tivo, and boy, do I love it!  Finally, like the answering machine tamed the telephone, the tv is now our servant, rather than it feeling the other way around.

I set it to automatically record various shows like Nova and Nature that we like—and also, Oprah and Dr. Phil.  I don’t watch all of the Oprah and Phil shows, just delete those that have no interest.  And frankly, a lot more of Oprah gets zapped.  Because I fancy that Dr. Phil and I are in the same business and I like to see how he handles things.  Sometimes he is good, a few times, very very good.  Often so-so (I feel good in comparison), sometimes down-right bad.  Then I can’t stand to watch and just zap the whole business.

What I have gotten the most from Dr. Phil has been accidental: I get to watch show after show of people lying and evading the truth, close up.  Sometimes Phil does pretty well at pinning those folks to the wall.  It is impressive. 

If for no other reason than to train yourself to spot liars, watch Phil regularly.  Very cheap and effective training.

The best show I have seen yet for “putting pathology right on the screen” was shown on 12/31/2007.  Probably a pretty dead day for viewers, but I taped it and watched a few days later.  If you want to see a character-disordered con man, super-slick, you have GOT to see this show.  The show is called “Faking it?”  There’s a writeup and slide show available online, but if I were you, I’d buy the video for $29 which you can through the website.  It’ll be worth every penny.  The skillfulness of this guy does not come through in the write-up.

Being about to spot character disorders was the most difficult part of mental health diagnosis for me.  (I’m a professional therapist, have been for 30 years.)  The short definition that works for me is that “Normal neurotics,” folks like most of us, feel too much responsibility and too much guilt.  Those who are character disordered don’t feel enough responsibility or enough guilt.  The jails are full of character disordered folks: “I didn’t do it.”  Higher functioning character disordered folks can do very well in things like politics, even get elected president (or in present case, vice president).

If you can get a copy of this show, just watch Fred slip and slide, or at least try to, while he evades getting pinned down in lies and inconsistencies.  Phil does pretty well keeping up with Fred, but you can tell that Fred simply doesn’t get Phil’s side of the discussion, he is so character disordered and convinced of his view of the world. 

Then, for dramatic contrast, stay tuned for the second guest, Linda.  While Linda too is a con and deeply disturbed, she is not character disordered.  She knows what she does is wrong, feels guilt, and wants to change.  Far different than the way Fred presents.  As crazy as Linda’s behavior is, you can feel some empathy for her. 

Not Fred.  People like Fred make the rest of us feel crazy.  They are master manipulators.  Watch Fred carefully to see how a good one does it.


Scams and How to Report

Hey, I’m always looking for helps for singles looking for love, and unfortunately, that means alerting you to scams and how to report.  Here’s the meat of the matter…

Internet Scam Reporting

Mark Brooks, Online Personals Watch

Users who have been scammed should report the crime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Statistics on internet scamming are available here.  Of those individuals who reported a dollar loss, the highest median losses were found among Nigerian letter fraud ($5,100), check fraud ($3,744), and other investment fraud ($2,695) complainants


STD’s and Internet dating

If you stick to cybersex, you shouldn’t have any problem avoiding giving or getting sexually transmitted diseases.  However, if you progress to face to face meetings, and eventually get to the point of having sex, you have to have The Safe Sex Talk and then decide if you are going to take the risk.

Interestingly, I have also read that STD’s are on the rise in retirement communities, since we entered the Viagra age.

If you do have an STD, it’s possible via the Net to find support and even dating groups.  Herpes, which 1 in 4 women have, and 1 in 5 men, has spawned clubs like Charlotteh.com (for people in the Charlotte area with herpes) and Atlantah for Atlantians.

Just like anyone on a dating site is identifying themselves as looking for love, someone at one of the STD sites is also self-identifying.  That takes a lot of guess work out, as well as the stress of having to tell about having an STD. 

So if you have a similar concern, go to Google and search on “whatever your STD”+“dating site” and see what gets listed.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


See My Views on True.com Sponsored Legislation

I’ve written extensively here on True.com’s efforts to essentially legislate their business model.  They are trying again here in Florida, and I have testified against the bill, as well as written this op ed piece which is in today’s local paper:

In the Tallahassee Democrat:

Article published Apr 20, 2007
Saturday My View: Law would promote careless online dating
By Kathryn Lord

I am a romance coach with an international Internet-based business here in Tallahassee. I work with singles to find partners using Internet dating sites. I’m concerned that our Legislature is considering a new law that could endanger Florida singles who use Internet dating services. House Bill 531 and Senate Bill 1224 would create a false sense of security by having the state endorse an outdated and ineffective way to keep convicted criminals off of online dating sites.

The main proponent of these bills is True.com. I have been watching and writing about True.com’s attempts to legislate its business model for more than two years (read more on my blog: https://find-a-sweetheart.com/blog/C37). True.com has come up with a clever strategy to get publicity and hamper its competition: True.com asks state legislators for a law that requires dating sites to disclose whether they screen members for previous felony convictions (True.com claims it does).

That sounds like a good idea, until you learn that True.com’s screening is based only on the name given by a potential member, without any serious attempt to verify the person’s true identity. That’s never going to identify a convicted criminal who simply uses another name.

What’s more, the True.com screen looks only for felony convictions, intentionally avoiding the cost of checking for misdemeanors, which would pick up convictions for assault, stalking and sexual violence.

True.com encourages a false promise of security in singles, and now it wants Florida’s Legislature to hold it up as an example for other dating services.

Not only does True.com’s screenings appear to be woefully inadequate, but also, any criminal or would-be criminal with some intelligence could easily figure out how to get past the screening. I worry more about the smart folks with bad intentions, rather than the ones who have already been caught at least once. This kind of legislation encourages singles to believe that they are safe and drop their normal and reasonable precautions.

In my work, I coach Florida singles to use online dating services that I believe are wonderful resources to find a partner. I met my now-husband nine years ago on Match.com. He lived in Mississippi, and because I had never been west of Pensacola, we never would have met otherwise. When I was Internet dating, I worried about safety, but I never had an experience where I felt threatened.

If Internet dating is really as dangerous as this legislation seems to suggest, then why would singles be flocking to online dating sites in such huge numbers? Internet dating sites are more profitable than just about any other online business. Singles talk to each other, and they are telling about what a wonderful - and reasonably safe - resource the Internet is in the all-too-human quest for love.

Online dating services are inherently safer than many other dating methods. Singles remain anonymous in their own homes while asking as many questions and learning about potential dates at their leisure.

Ineffective background screens such as the one True.com offers would remove the element of Internet dating that encourages proactivity and would falsely give people the impression that their correspondent is not a criminal. Currently, many existing online dating services provide safety guidelines to their customers that are common knowledge. As well, Internet dating is rapidly evolving its own safety guidelines and rules that ironically are making traditional dating safer, too.

No other dating venues that I am aware of perform or require notification of background checking. When was the last time you went to a bar or singles social at church where warnings about background checks were posted? Yet we all know that you can meet dangerous people in bars and in church.

Again, this legislation would falsely give Florida singles the impression that they are fully informed on the background of the person they are interested in dating and would eliminate singles’ initiative to ask questions and exercise caution. True.com should not need legislation to succeed in the online dating business.

All Floridians need to take a proactive role in their safety and security online and offline and stand against this legislation by informing our legislators that HB531 and SB1224 are the wrong way to protect Floridians.


Online Dating Liars, Cheats and Scammers, Beware!

If you lie, cheat, or mislead people via Internet dating (or if you are concerned that someone will do it to you), you need to go on over to http://www.playersnitch.com/ and see the newest trend: reporting on who did what, with pictures, sceen names, and even full reports with identifying information.  I wrote about dontdatehimgirl.com earlier, which is a similar site. 

Playersnitch seems less catty and maybe less likely to be abused by folks who are just mad about a relationship gone bad.  I liked the reporting style—a whole list of possible sins: See list below this posting.  I was impressed frankly by the “restraint” of the reporters.  I think that the reporting style the site uses encourages preciseness and not just angry blasts.

The owner of the site sent me that you might want to check out—to see if you are pictured, or anyone you are dating.  I looked up some of the screen names of those identified as posting on Match.com.  Some were still there, using the same screen name.

So fair warning: If you lie, cheat or behave badly, more and more ways are springing up for your behavior to be reported.  If you don’t want your name and picture appearing on one of these sites, then keep your behavior impeccable.

It’s becoming clearer and clearer that lying and bad behavior brings daters no advantage at all, and in fact, is destructive to the liar themselves.  Your best defense is absolute honesty, above-board, kind and responsible behavior.  And insist on the same from others.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord

In a relationship
Last relationship is not over
Only wants sex
Dates multiple people
Sleeps with multiple people
Lies about age
Lies about height
Lies weight
Lies about body type
Lies about grey or balding hair
Lies about having children
Lies about employment status
Lies about financial security
Lies about where they live
Lies about health
Lies about smoking
Lies about drinking
Lies about drug use
Lies about what they are seeking
Lies about education
Posted old or misleading photos
Overly secretive
Is moody
Has a bad temper
Is a control freak
Is overly jealous
Will not commit to a relationship
Is an active alcoholic
Is a drug addict
Cyber stalking
Is physically violent
Steals money or property
Commits fraud for personal gain
Forges signatures or documents
Improperly transfers assets to self
Sexual assault
Claim of sexual interference by a child


Establish Identity and Background Checking Resources

Trufina.com: Prove you are you with a free Trufina ID Card   Share your Trufina ID anytime you need to prove your identity online

Here’s how the Trufina site says you can use it’s services for online dating.

Intelius.com:  Background Check By Social Security Number
Background Check Includes: Criminal report, sex offender check, lawsuits, judgments, liens, bankruptcies, home value & property ownership, 30 year address history, relatives & associates, neighbors, marriage records, and more.

You can view a sample report by clicking a link on the Intelius site.

The Corra Group  This service does background checks for businesses, but will also do searches for individual uses.

Also, don’t forget to Google your date’s name, or do a search on MySpace, remembering that many people may share the same name.  I just searched my name on MySpace and got five girlie’s, some of them pretty young.

If you live in the Pittsburg, PA, area, you can check out the website maintained by the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department to catch dead-beat parents.


Watch Out, Guys!

Here’s a chilling story that sounds like entrapment, but falls in the murky gray area of the law.  Men all over the country were taken in by ads on Craig’s list that sounded like a young woman looking for a sexy, good time, but were actually written by a man.  Nude photos of the guys along with identifying information were posted on a now-defunct website called craiglist-perverts.  Spouses and employers were also notified of the men’s online activities.

Be very, very careful what you put out there into cyberspace.  Remember, you do not know who these people are!

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


Get Anonymous Phone Numbers

Via an article on Time.com:

..thanks to Vumber you can get many numbers with only one phone — and even numbers from more desirable area codes. You can be reached at a New York City number one minute and L.A. the next, or small-town Alabama, where you really live. If the person dialing one of the numbers turns out to be a less than desirable caller, poof! the number disappears with a few keystrokes. “You can vanish without a trace,” said Geoff Schneider, executive vice president of Vumber.

Vumber is free for the first 100 minutes, then $4.95 for the first month. then $9.95.  You can also buy packages of minutes, but with the way singles tend to talk on the phone, a monthly plan sounds best to me. 

I have a client who lives in New Jersey but would like to date women in Manhattan.  This could give him a Manhattan phone number, though the cheat wouldn’t work forever.

Match.com offers Matchtalk, which uses Jangl’s technology.  MatchTalk was offered for free, but will soon be a $6.99 per month add-on to a Match.com membership.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


Big Money in Dating Scams

The total dollars that scammers are getting are going up.  First, a story out of Ghana where a man posing as a woman was looking “for a Christian man” to marry.  The scammer knit a convoluted series of stories that eventually got over $150,000 from his American victim.  Read the article to get a sense of what twists and turns were invented to keep the victim paying up.

Then, a Jacksonville, FL, lawyer (48) has made lemonade out of lemons with his new book “How Not to get Burned By Internet Dating and Mail-Order Brides: A Guide for the Potential Victim.”  Anthony Penoso shelled out $75,000 in cash and gifts for his Romanian girlfriend, who literally ditched him at the alter and flew on to California with her new/old boyfriend.  Perhaps the fact that the woman was 26 to his 48 ought to have been a bit of a red flag. 

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


My Blog Stops a Scammer!!!

I’ve wondered about the scamming reports that I have blogged about here.  I have worried that they are too scary for singles, but then I have gone ahead and posted what I have been reading about online dating fraud, because I want you to be able to protect yourselves.  Here’s validation that I am doing the right thing:

This is a post that I put up last June, and then I just got a comment on it from Julie, who this same guy is trying to scam!

Anybody Can get Scammed

WYFF4 ran a story on May 10 describing a classic scam that I’m seeing lots of reports of out of Nigeria.  See the Nigerian connection pieces I have written.

From YOur Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord

Ben Coleman contacted Aileen Califano through a dating site.  After spending some time to gain Califano’s trust, Coleman asked for money, which Califano rightly refused.  Then Coleman sent her $3,800 in money orders, which he asked her to deposit in her bank account, then wire the money to Colorado.

Califano was not fooled.  She was sure they were a fraud, and checked.  They were.

Sending phony money orders and asking the receiver to deposit the fake checks and then forward the money to another address is a common scam technique.  In the May 15, 2006, issue of the New Yorker, author Mitchell Zuckoff wrote about how John W. Worley, a Christian psychotherapist, was suckered into a classic Nigerian scam.  If you want to see how a perfectly normal, bright man gets suckered, take a look.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord

posted by Kathryn Lord on 06.02.06 at 12.18 pm
permalink | Categories: • Dating Tips • Money Matters • Be Safe • Scams and Scam Protection • Beware! Bad Stories, Bad Advice • 2 Comments
* Comments

Thank you for your story.  I have been talking with Ben Coleman for a few weeks now and he asked me for money today.  I had searched for something on him on the internet for weeks now and found absolutely nothing.  Then today I found your story.  He is on singleparentmeet.com.  He says he lives in Florida.  There has to be some way to make this more public.

Posted by Julie on 02/06 at 01:59 AM

Wow, Julie!  That was close, huh?  I am so glad that what I wrote helped you.  I encourage you to follow up with this guy: Let the dating site know, at the very minimum.  Here’s a link to all my blog posts about scamming and scam resources: https://find-a-sweetheart.com/blog/C48/
Good for you for doing your research!  And what gall he has, repeating his game, and using the same name!  Hasn’t he heard about Google too?

Posted by Kathryn Lord on 02/06 at 09:56 AM

Now, let’s keep things in perspective.  By far, most people on Internet dating sites are normal folks just like you and me who are looking for love and are honest, or at least basically so.  But any technology can be misused, and scammers are figuring out that lonely singles are vulnerable to their whyles.  Keep yourself informed.  I have written extensively about scamming here.  My blog entries are catagorized and you can read all my scamming posts here.


Sharp Eyes and Dumb Criminals

A man wanted for robbery and murder was spotted by an Internet dater who was looking at profiles on PlentyofFish.com.  26 year old Calvin Bennett had posted a profile and photo on PlentyofFish.com and had been contacting women while he traveled north from Arkansas, where he had committed the crime.  “America’s Most Wanted” had shown Bennett’s photo on the show, and a viewer called the U. S. Marshall’s office to say she recognized him.

In a path worthy of a terrific movie, the Marshall’s office contacted the website owner, who was able to trace messages that Bennett has sent to various women, and locate him in Wisconsin, where he was staying with a woman he had met on PlentyofFish.com.  The Marshall’s moved in and arrested Bennett.


1.  You are not private on the Net.  If you are a criminal, it is probably not a good idea to post you photo on an Internet dating site.

2.  Murderers and robbers have the same access to online dating sites as everyone else.

3.  Internet daters, beware.  Your potential mate has the duty and obligation to prove who they are and that their intentions are positive.  These people are strangers, and need to be treated as such until proved otherwise.

4.  Do not invite someone you don’t know into your home.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


Married Men and Potential Cheaters

Here’s a great resource for women who want help identifying married men who are cruising around online, and also, how to predict whether your potential mate may cheat on you.  Ruth Houston’s Infidelityadvice.com has scads of free articles that you can download.  Certainly more than anyone ever wants to have to know about the subject.  I got “Are You Dating a Potential Cheater?” and “20 Signs You Are Dating a Married Man.”

Unfortunately, married men posing as single on dating sites have posed quite a problem.  Some estimate up to 30% of men posted have been married.  When I was first on Match.com in 1998, Match openly allowed married people to join and self-identify as such.  That choice is not offered anymore, as the big sites like Yahoo! Personals and Match.com try to solicit only single folks.

Interestingly, I have heard practically nothing about married women listing as single on dating sites.  Any other experience out there to report? 

I do suspect that sites like AdultFriendFinder, which are blatantly sexual and don’t care what your marital status is, is siphoning off the married guys from the regular sites.  What do you think?

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


Tallahassee Democrat Tackles Dating Fraud

From an article in the Tallahassee Democrat about fraud, the part about Internet dating:

Overseas, and especially in Nigeria, thieves and scammers are joining Internet-based dating services that cater to American customers. The scammer will hook up and woo the suitor, then ask for money for an emergency, like a medical emergency or a financial emergency. Or they’ll ask to send a check for the American to cash at their bank, then ask the American to wire the money in cash back to them, Bierbaum said.

“We’ve had two incidents of this in Tallahassee where women sent money overseas to these people,” Bierbaum said. “I can’t tell you their names because they’re just so embarrassed that they fell for this, but they had to report it to police.”

The checks sent from overseas are counterfeit. The scammer will put some sort of time-sensitive urgency on the transaction so the victim will take it to their bank and get it cleared before the bank has had a chance to fully investigate the check, Bierbaum said.

“Let your bank protect you,” he said. “Don’t fall for this stuff.”

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


Cyber Lotharios

I wrote the article below about Cyber Lotharios several years ago.  If it sounds like I know what I am talking about, I do: I ran into one when I was Internet dating myself.  Unfortunately, these guys are showing up more and more on online dating sites.  Just like crooks figured out how to use the telephone for nefarious purposes after it was invented (or any new technology, for that matter), so shysters are learning how to leverage the Net.  Probably you, like me, get scads of emails from Nigerians who need you to help them claim their “inheritance.”

The Cyber Lothario though is much more sophisticated.  He looks and sounds just like you and me: He speaks and writes excellent English, at least the seductive sort.  And he is super smooth. 

It’s pretty easy to detect a Nigerian scam.  But quite a bit harder with these guys. 

Unfortunately, I was inspired to dig out this article because one of my clients is currently being scammed.  She and I worked together briefly last spring, but because of her tight finances, we hadn’t talked in quite awhile.  She did email me and let me know that she had met a “wonderful guy” and was deeply in love.

However, she started getting suspicious, and we have talked several times as she has struggled to sort out the real truth.  I emailed her this article a couple of days ago, and she says it describes him perfectly.

So in the interest of the safety of us all, here’s how to tell if a Syber Lothario is out to hook you:

The Cyber Lothario

Are you writing to someone who is romancing you off your feet?  Does this guy seem to know just what to say or write that gets you a step or two further down the garden path? 

Perhaps more dangerous than the notorious Internet rapists and murderers are the Cyber Lotharios.  Maybe you know one. Smooth as silk.  Seduction is his native language.

More dangerous, because these guys (well, maybe there are girls too, but I am more familiar with the guys) are GOOD. 

These guys are the Internet equivalent of a Bill Clinton, if Bill Clinton hadn’t gotten caught.  They are the cyber version of handsome—they write beautifully, know just what you want to hear and tell you.  They POUR it on, and for a thirsty woman, it is nectar from the Gods.

These fellows post on dating sites indefinitely, waiting for the unsuspecting newbie to the dating site.  You might contact him, he might contact you, but like a used car salesman, he knows a pigeon when he sees one.

Then slowly, softly, but determinablely, he has his way with you.

How do you tell if you have one of these guys on the wire?  What if he is a really nice guy, really meaning every word he says?

Well, one thing would be if you find yourself agreeing to things that you never would if you were in your right mind.  Particularly if that has to do with sex.  Or maybe money.

These guys make manipulation feel like a warm bath.  You just slide right in and it feels delicious.

But there is a certain vagueness, particularly about past relationships, and perhaps about future plans.  They may also be vague about grounding their identity in reality: Perhaps you can only reach them on their cell phone.  They avoid introducing you to real family and friends.  Their relationship with you is kept away from their real life, in motels, your home territory and not theirs.  These guys may reassure, they always have a good story, but they also will leave themselves a way out.

How can you tell?

Well, one thing you can do is ask for a relationship history.  Then pay attention to how he responds, as well as what he actually says. 

Does he groan and moan about doing the job?  Is he grudging in what he tells you?  Or is he open and serious, understanding what you are asking and why? 

Does he seem to have trouble remembering his own history, what her name was, what order the different relationships came in?  Is he reluctant to divulge, or does he sound like he is fudging? 

Does he seem to be moving you fast towards a romantic getaway?  Maybe he makes plans for the two of you to meet, and reserves only one room.  Is he heavily sexually suggestive and titillating?  Does he ask questions like “What kind of lingerie are you wearing?”

Even though a new and legitimate relationship can be highly sexually charged, a guy who is seriously interested in you and a possible future with you will be protective and understanding of you and your feelings. 

Look for information that ties him to a real place and a real life.  Where does he work?  Call him at his workplace.  Ask to meet his family and friends.

If you feel antsy, pay attention.  If your hormones may be doing your thinking, put on the brakes and engage your critical brain. Better to let this dangerous Clark Gable type swim away than to be left flat and busted.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


American Man Killed in Foriegn Bride Scam

While men usually have less safety concerns than women, men are not immune to violence.  Raymond James Merrill, 56, of San Bruno , California, wooed a Brazilian woman (Regina Filomena Rachid) that he met on an online Latin dating site.  An article in the Mercury News tells the details of how Rachid and two men extracted several hundred thousand dollars from Merrill before strangling him and burning his body.

Beware, guys.  Just because you are a man does not mean you are safe online or off.  Read my warnings to women and be particularly suspicious of any requests for money.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


Men Seeking Foriegn Brides Must Report Backgrounds

Men seeding foreign brides are now having to comply with the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) which went into effect in March 2006.  IMBRA is an effort to to protect women from potential abuse from American men who look for foreign wives on the Internet.  IMBRA requires that men provide the government and dating agencies with information about criminal records and marital history before bringing a woman into this country.  Figures given in an article from the New York Times seem to support the concern:  During fiscal year 2006, 9,500 woman applied for permanent residence in the U.S. under the Violence Against Women Act, as opposed to less than 2,500 in 1998.  At the same time, the increase of women entering the U.S. to marry has skyrocketed: 37,500 in fiscal 2006, a 50% increase from 2002, and a fourfold increase since 9,500 in 1998.  This would translate into roughly 25% of foreign women in 1998 and 2006 who left American men because of potential abuse.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


Background Checks?

Here’s Mark Brooks’ OnlinePersonalsWatch again, this time linking to a pretty far out article on how to do a background check on a date:

How to Perform a Background Check on a Potential Online Date

PEOPLE SEARCH NEWS—Nov 2—When executed properly, a background check can tell whether someone is married, real age and if they have a criminal record. Try to probe your date for specific information such as his social security number or date of birth. If you do need to obtain some additional or basic information from your date to perform your background check, there is no need to panic. Casually asking questions like, “Do you have any brothers or sisters?” or “Where are you from again…were you born there too?” If your date is hesitant to give you this type of information, you probably should look elsewhere for Mr. Right. FULL ARTICLE @ PEOPLE SEARCH NEWS

Mark Brooks: You’ve got to be kidding me.  [Monty Python voice] “nobody expects the Spanish inquisition.”  Your comments please…

And here’s comments posted, including mine: 


What do you like to do for fun? Oh, and what is your social security number?

Too funny.

Posted by: Michael | November 02, 2006 at 03:48 PM

Not as funny as it sounds. I am consistently amazed at the sleuthing skills of my clients. One told me last week about going to the court house and having the names of her two current dates seached to see if they were really divorced. She didn’t guite have the guts to ask to see the actual papers, but did establish that one divorce suit listed eight counts against her suitor, all of which he acknowleged in the papers. Wasn’t it just a couple of years ago when Googling your date’s name was seen as rude and intrusive? Just part of the routine now.

Kathryn Lord, Romance Coach


OnlinePersonalsWatch is Watching Scammers and So Am I

Mark Brooks of OnlinePersonalsWatch posted the following a few days ago:

Online Dating Industry Deleting Scammers

CHICAGO TRIBUNE’s RED EYE—Oct 24—The online dating industry has learned to cut off scammers at the pass.  Nelson Rodridguez, CEO LoveAccess, employs a full-time staff to look for suspicious behavior, like a member sending out hundreds of e-mails a day or posting the same photo on multiple profiles. The effort results in the removal of 20 to 30 profiles a day. Match (15 million users) has staffers personally review each profile and photo before posting them to the site. ~15% of profiles are rejected each month.  A security team seeks and weeds out people who compromise the user experience for others. Some dating sites simply block all IP addresses from Nigeria, said Mark Brooks, an online dating industry analyst. But with scammers changing tactics, it’s a constant game of cat-and-mouse. 419eater.com encourages people to bait scammers. Romancescam.com, posts the photos, e-mail addresses and usernames that scammers have used. The FBI hopes to tackle the problem by educating people about scams, FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said. The agency helps fund a Web site called http://www.lookstoogoodtobetrue.com and encourages people to report scams to the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, at ic3.gov.

Here’s the comment I posted to it:

I’ve written regularly about online dating scams in my blog postings on safety https://find-a-sweetheart.com/blog/C15/ I used to think that scamming was very rare, but I have been hearing more and more about it lately, and not just in the press (which I tend to distrust because of it’s “If it bleeds, it leads” mentality). In particular, my clients and newsletter readers have been telling me about getting scammed themselves. I plan to get much more vocal about scamming self-protection, but I certainly am glad to read that the dating sites are actively pursuing scammers. Even Western Union (often used by scammers to transfer money) is apparently helping out: one client told me of trying to send money to an online contact through Western Union. She was thoroughly grilled about whether she was SURE that the recipient was not a scammer. Yea, Western Union!

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


Dating Sites and Scams

Here’s a recent posting on Mark Brooks’ OnlinePersonalsWatch.com:

CHICAGO TRIBUNE’s RED EYE—Oct 24—The online dating industry has learned to cut off scammers at the pass.  Nelson Rodridguez, CEO LoveAccess, employs a full-time staff to look for suspicious behavior, like a member sending out hundreds of e-mails a day or posting the same photo on multiple profiles. The effort results in the removal of 20 to 30 profiles a day. Match (15 million users) has staffers personally review each profile and photo before posting them to the site. ~15% of profiles are rejected each month.  A security team seeks and weeds out people who compromise the user experience for others. Some dating sites simply block all IP addresses from Nigeria, said Mark Brooks, an online dating industry analyst. But with scammers changing tactics, it’s a constant game of cat-and-mouse. 419eater.com encourages people to bait scammers. Romancescam.com, posts the photos, e-mail addresses and usernames that scammers have used. The FBI hopes to tackle the problem by educating people about scams, FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said. The agency helps fund a Web site called www.looks toogoodtobetrue.com and encourages people to report scams to the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, at ic3.gov.

And my comment:

I’ve written regularly about online dating scams in my blog postings on safety https://find-a-sweetheart.com/blog/C15/ I used to think that scamming was very rare, but I have been hearing more and more about it lately, and not just in the press (which I tend to distrust because of it’s “If it bleeds, it leads” mentality). In particular, my clients and newsletter readers have been telling me about getting scammed themselves. I plan to get much more vocal about scamming self-protection, but I certainly am glad to read that the dating sites are actively pursuing scammers. Even Western Union (often used by scammers to transfer money) is apparently helping out: one client told me of trying to send money to an online contact through Western Union. She was thoroughly grilled about whether she was SURE that the recipient was not a scammer. Yea, Western Union!

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


True.com’s Criminal Checks Have Holes

True.com has based it’s marketing to singles on background checks and safety for singles.  I’ve written extensively about True.com before.  Robert Well, a convicted child molester and registered sex offender, made it onto True.com under the surveillance radar.  True.com did sue Well and got Well banished from the cyber dating world in the settlement.  (I do wonder how that ban will be enforced?)  But even True.com’s owner Herb Vest admits that his own background checking firm has only about 94% of the USA felony convictions.

This is a good example of the problems when sites offer safety, either directly like True.com or indirectly, like the religious-based sites.  Singles cannot assume that those others on a site, no matter what the site says about screening, are safe.  And in fact, those assurances can create a false sense of safety and encourage singles to relax their vigilance.  Be careful, be suspicious, ask questions. 
From YOur Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


The World Is Becoming a Small Town

I grew up in a small town, and remember the relief of going off to college where practically no one know me.  I could create a new “me” apart from my old history.  Then I went to graduate school in New York City, where I really relished the anonymity.  Rarely did I ever see anyone I knew just on the street.  I loved the privacy. 

Computers and the Internet have given a sense of the privacy of big cities, where no one really knows “you” and you can recreate yourself.  Certainly folks do, and dating sites provide plenty of examples of that creativity, some of which stray pretty far from anything based in reality.  But now, we are moving into an era that feels more small town all the time.  A Google of my own name brings up over 11,000 entries, not all me, but it looks like about 2/3’s ARE me.  I am not hard to find.

A recent article from Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania discusses privacy and the Internet and warns of the dangers of posting pictures and information that could be available nearly forever, for whomever wanted to take a look.  Take for instance the recent Tom Foley scandal.  Here are a couple of examples from that article of inadvertent exposures:

In early September, a web developer took an apparently real advertisement placed online by a woman looking for a sexual liaison and posted it on the Seattle “casual encounters” section of the Craigslist bulletin board, according to press reports. There were 178 responses to the phony sexual solicitation, many of which included compromising photos. The developer then posted all the responses on a public website, including photos, email addresses and other personal information—where anyone could view them.


Then there was the case of a young woman in Seoul who was on a subway train with her pet dog when the animal relieved itself on the floor. The woman did not clean up the mess, angering other riders, and the woman herself reportedly became surly as tensions escalated. Using a camera phone—at 99%, South Korea has the highest camera-phone penetration in the world—a passenger snapped a picture of the woman and the mess her dog had created. The photo, along with language describing what had happened, was posted online and eventually appeared on many sites. Some viewers were able to identify the woman, who became such a pariah that she dropped out of college and went into hiding.


These both point to the real publicness of both public and private behavior.  Do not assume that lies or bad behavior will go unreported and/or unpunished. 

As with small towns, where everyone knowing everything established strong social controls on behavior, new ways of finding out what you don’t want revealed (or tracking down what you DO reveal and wish you hadn’t) are coming out every day.  The good part is that creates pressure for good behavior—truthfulness, kindness, and politeness.  The bad part is that misstep can easily be discovered and plastered all over creation.  Literally. 

So be careful with your online behavior.  Don’t do or say anything you would not want anyone anywhere to know about.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


Safety Concerns for Men

Worries about personal safety are not just for women anymore.  Men tend to be less concerned about such issues, but that illusion of safety can lead to trouble.

The NWI Times reported on September 2 that East Chicago police had broken up a gang of armed robbers who targeted men found through telephone dating lines and Internet chat rooms.  Evidently, a female member of the gang handled the direct contact and arranged to meet the victim.  In at least two of the incidents, then men were forced into the trunks of their own cars at gunpoint and driven around while their bank accounts were drained at ATM.  Credit cards were also stolen and used by the thieves.

Guys—and women: Remember, you do not know these people who you are meeting.  Follow basic safety rules.  At the very least, meet in a public place where there are plenty of people around.  Do not get in a car with this relative stranger or go to any isolated place, no matter how turned on you are.  Better frustrated than dead.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


Miscellanous Dating Safety Tips

Here’s a list of dating safety tips that I have gathered over the last few months from various sources:

1.  Let a new Sweetie know up front that you want to meet their family, friends and co-workers.  If he/she resists making that happen, you need to suspect that he/she may not be telling you the truth.  Like he/she may be married or unemployed.

2.  Watch out for vagueness or secretiveness about basic information.  If your date is being honest with you, they should easily answer questions about their lives.  This goes particularly for men, who don’t have the same safety concerns as women do.  Honest men will usually tell you what you want to know.

3.  Check to see if your online Sweetie may have other profiles posted, either on the same website or others, with different ages, pictures and information, designed to attract different types of people.  Interesting they words they use in their profiles may be helpful, like “kayak.”  Do a search using those words and see what comes up.

4.  Don’t forget to Google your date.  You’ll have to have his/her full name to do so, and be aware that others may have the same name.

5.  You may want to think about getting a web cam, and asking potential dates to do the same.  If they are reluctant to show you their real time face, there may be a good reason.

6.  Tell the truth.  Your attitude will encourage others to do so, and we all have to play our part in making the Net safe and trustworthy.  But be aware that YOU DO NOT KNOW THIS OTHER PERSON, regardless of how much intimacy you seem to have built up.  Even if you are squeaky clean honest, they may be lying through their keyboards.  Have some healthy skepticism.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord


Watch Out for Nigerian Scams!

Here’s an interchange by email between me and one of my readers which I found scary and therefore worth posting here as a warning to others.  My answers are in red:

Dear Kathryn,

Am getting marry soon this coming january am get nervous what
will happen to me next at the same time happy, we meet on chat
at first i ignore what he is saying to me cause on chat more lie
later he give me his password so i can trace his email at the
same time password in his yahoo messenger but the more we
communicate long the more love i felt for him, he will come this
november to set our seminar after that set our wed this coming
january, he is from nigeria,sango ota state.All i do from now
keep on praying that God lead us…

My question is:
Is that enough to trust person giving his password?
Am i going to ignore him forever cause we meet thru chat…





Red flag #1: It looks as though the two of you have not met in
real time yet, and you are already planning to get married?
Way, way too fast.

Red flag #2: He’s from Nigeria???  Nigeria is the #1 location of
Internet scams.  See my blog postings on staying safe on the
Internet: https://find-a-sweetheart.com/blog/C15/  You’ll see
several of my articles on Nigerian scams.

Meeting in a chat room is the least of your worries.  But basing
trust on that he gave you his password???  Don’t do it.  These
scammers are very smart, and likely that is part of his

More don’ts:  Don’t send him any money or co-operate in anything
that involves money.

Don’t put much hope in this working out.  Highly, highly risky.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this one is as clear as a

Best, Kathryn


There’s no money involve in our relationship despite he want
to sent me money but its delay cause he said EFCC is
monitoring every financial activities of individuals in
nigeria,also cause of high rate crime there,he said too much
of youngsters who engaged themselves in fraud, because of the
high rate of fraud there in nigeria they are trying to put an
end to FRAUD he said am not one of them and also he said he
is trying to work hard to earn his money, but thank very much
for the advice, but he is coming here on November so how can
i notice if he is member of this internet scam group…Please
give me some tips…so that am aware…

Thank you.



You’ll need to do some research.  Here are some links for you to
check out.  Do a Google search on Nigeria+dating+scams and trace
down the leads.





Be very very careful.  Your situation does not sound good to me
at all.

Best, Kathryn



Dear Kathryn:
are you saying all negiria is bad?


No, but that’s where most of the Internet scamming is coming
from.  You met this person on the Internet.  He is from Nigeria.
So be careful.

From Your Romance Coach, Kathryn Lord



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