Online dating is often associated with finding love, but as many as 33% of people creating profiles are looking for something else - to make you a victim.
In February, police say an Ypsilanti Township, Michigan man was beaten and robbed after setting up a date online.
Then in March a woman in Troy was scammed out of more than $700,000.
These aren’t isolated incidents. The Better Business Bureau of Eastern Michigan says crimes like these are becoming more and more common.
“The Better Business Bureau has a tool called the scam tracker and it’s actually in our top 10 most likely scams to occur to our users” says Melanie Duquesnel, the President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern Michigan.
It can be hard to tell the good from the bad. You need to ask yourself a few important questions.
“What is the intention and if the intention is a relationship and the relationship only happens through text messages or emails and there’s no face-to-face, there’s generally a problem,” says Duquesnel.
There is a dangerous side of online dating, but you can protect yourself and a new app is working to change things.
Even Karly Rogers, who found love online, says she has had scary experiences in the past.
“I got a couple messages from a guy who claimed he was a police officer and he could tell that I read his messages, so he would text me on the app and say I can tell you’re reading my message, you’re not responding. I can find you, I’m a police officer,” says Rogers.
Here’s a scary statistic: 10% of convicted sex offenders are found to have used online dating services to hunt for their victims.
Now there’s an app created to help take the fear factor out of online dating by including a background check. Its called Gatsby.
Creator Joseph Penora spoke with Detroit-based WXYZ over Skype.
“We’re all about giving people piece of mind when they’re looking for love,” says Penora.
In most ways Gatsby works like other dating apps, swipe left or right, but then it goes the extra mile.
“Lets say you’re a criminal and you’re trying to sign up. We scan instantaneously every single stitch of data, so that by the time you hit submit to finish the sign up process, we already know if you’re a criminal and you instantly get banned,” says Penora.
The best part? It’s absolutely free!
Penora says whether you are using his app or any other, there are some precautions you should take.
- Use a messaging system, don’t give out your phone number.
- Let people know where you are going.
- Drive yourself. Don’t get in the car with the person.
- Always meet in a public place, never give the person your address.
Karley Rogers says she relied on a very special someone’s instincts to find her prince charming.
“My mom helped me pick out who I should actually meet with and would be on the phone with me when I got there and when I left,” she says.
Mom really does know best.