Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

(from my book, Net Crimes & Misdemeanors, 2nd Edition at

In the past, singles met available dating partners mainly at social events and through introductions by mutual acquaintances, but the Internet has opened up a whole new world of possibilities. Today, with seemingly endless opportunities for making a good match online, the potential for trouble is also on the rise. Online personal ads, dating services, and chat room romances can and do lead to deception, violence, andin rare caseseven death.
Michael Halloway of Kentucky was sentenced to life for murdering a woman he met on the Internet. Stacy Dodson would drive to Louisville to meet Halloway and in October 2001, he kidnapped her at gunpoint, put her in the trunk of his car, then drove to a local park where he shot and killed her. His motive: simple larceny.
William Miller of Missouri met Joann Brown in a chatroom. She went to live with him in 1998 and a few months later he killed her, put her in a well, and filled it with cement. Two weeks later he called the authorities, claiming the shooting was an accident. Hes currently serving a 25-year sentence.
Of course, these are worst-case scenarios. Episodes of online dating gone wrong typically lead to disappointment, frustration, anger, and occasionally concerns about ones safety, with relatively few resulting in loss of life. Still, it can happen.

Personal Ads
Personal ads can be great for the individual who wants to meet someone online, but they are sometimes misused, typically with revenge as the motive. The way it works is that the vengeful party places an ad in the other persons name, including a provocative profile along with personal information like a home phone number and address. This can be very dangerous if the wrong person reads the ad.
A woman, the ex-wife of a friend of my brother, decided to harass me by making up a profile using my name in the Yahoo! Personals, Anita says. Why she did this, I still dont know. She solicited men to fantasy rape me and gave out my phone number and address. As a result, I had over 400 men approach me. It was pure terror.
Yahoo! was cooperative. They canceled the account in question and held all the information regarding it for subpoena. But local police claimed they couldnt do anything for Anita even though she was put in harms way.
What if one of those men tried to rape me? Anita says. I ended up confronting this woman, telling her that Yahoo! had all the evidence and if she didnt stop Id sue her. She stopped.
Marie started receiving phone calls asking about a Personals ad shed supposedly placed on Yahoo!.
I had no idea what they were talking about, Marie recalls. I checked Yahoo! Personals and sure enough, there was an ad placed about me. It listed my name, that I was looking for a bisexual female, and it also listed my home and cell phone numbers.
Marie received phone calls about this ad for days and she became stressed over it, not to mention humiliated. She finally changed her home and cell phone numbers and made sure neither was publicly listed. She had to contact Yahoo! several times before they pulled the ad. She never found out who placed it.
What happened to Sue was a little different. She began receiving e-mail from people who claimed theyd heard about her through someone else. One of the messages read:

We received your name from someone via yahoo personals listing and were told that we should contact you. We have no idea if this contact was being straight with us but we were told that you are exactly what we are looking for. We dont want to go into more detail yet until we hear back from you and find out if this is for real. You can look up our ad/profile on yahoo (bbvelvet69). If this person was not being sincere we apologize for any inconvenience. Hope you will set us straight either way.

Another read:

Hey there. Glad to hear your very horny. Did you see my ad on Excite or did I reply to one of yours? Im rather horny as usual myself. (-: Maybe you could help me out with that..mmmmmm

And yet another read:

I was given your e-mail by seegulred@yahoo.com. I am a married man 64 230 lbs, blonde hair, green eyes, and I live in Roanoke. Im in need of an exciting sexual relationship. He said that you are very sexual and that is something I am looking for. I am 27 years old. So do you think you would be interested in getting with me sometime? Please e-mail me back and tell me what you look like.

Naturally, Sue was very upset. She answered the e-mails explaining she was not interested and had no idea who seegulred was. She asked for any information they could provide and one of them sent Sue the following, which she had purportedly posted:

If you want a nurse that will do anything, contact sueoromo@yahoo.com she will do anything, and likes it all. Her profile is earthpiggy.

Sue was flabbergasted to learn that, in order to impersonate and harass her, someone had opened an account at Yahoo! under the name earthpiggy and sent other Yahoo! members e-mail messages encouraging them to contact her. Sue requested that Yahoo! remove the earthpiggy account, as well as the seegulred account which was being used to e-mail inflammatory comments as well as her personal contact information. While both accounts were promptly canceled, Sue remains in the dark about who perpetrated the hoax. She hasnt had any problems since, but will probably always remain on her guard.
Through no fault of its own, Yahoo! seems to be a magnet for people bent on harassment. They may choose Yahoo! because, one, e-mail accounts are freely available, and, two, it offers a variety of other free services including chat, personals, clubs, and groups. Yahoo!s dominance as one of the most popular sites on the Internet, attracting millions of users, makes it an obvious choice for a broad spectrum of Web users including those with bad intentions.
It is gratifying to know that Yahoo! is quick to act when a situation like Sues occurs. This helps Yahoo! keep its reputation as one of the most popular sites on the Web.

Dealing with Fraudulent Personal Ads
Theres no way to know if someone has placed a personal ad in your name until you begin receiving phone calls, e-mails, orheaven forbidyou get an unwanted knock on your door. If you are approached, I recommend these simple steps:

1. Try to remain calm and ask the person who has contacted you where he/she saw the ad.

2. If possible, get a URL for the offending Web page; go to the page and print out several copies of the ad to keep as evidence.

3. Contact the Web host of the page/site where the ad was placed and ask that the ad be removed.

4. If the Web host refuses to remove the ad, contact your local police and ask them to intervene on your behalf to get the ad removed (having the URL and printout of the ad will come in handy). Assuming they agree, this usually does the trick.

5. Contact an online organization such as WHOA or, CyberAngels, for help.

6. Consider changing your e-mail address with your ISP. If you do, share your new e-mail address only with people you know and trust; open a free e-mail account on a Web site such as Hotmail or Yahoo! and use that for general e-mail.

Not all Yahoo! dating stories are bad, of course. Often, connecting online leads to romance and even true love. Mary and Sam met in a Yahoo! chat room, though neither was looking for a date at the time.
I was new to computers and to Yahoo!, Mary, a teacher, recalls. One evening after school, I was playing around in Yahoo! and accidentally found myself in a chat room called The Millionaires Club. Now, I would have immediately backed out of the chat room except I started reading what these people were saying and it was so hysterical that I was rolling out of my chair in laughter.
After about an hour, Mary decided to grade some papers so she turned off her computer after noting down a couple of the chatters screen names. A few evenings later, she spent two hours looking for the same chat room to get another good laugh. She found it and started reading the chat but did not see any familiar screen names.
When she finally recognized the screen name of a chatter entering the room, Mary sent a private message (so that the rest of the chatters wouldnt see it) to ask if one of the other chatters shed previously encountered had been in the chat room that evening. The reply indicated that the chatter had been a lurker like Mary and that he also thought the room was a hoot to hang out in, but they didnt know if that certain chatter had shown up.
Mary recalls: I replied in kind to say that reading between the lines was fun but that if anyone in that room was really a millionaire they would be on a yacht sipping drinks with little umbrellas served by a guy named Raouland not in a Yahoo! chat room. I got back a reply with a bunch of ha-has and a serious note asking if he could e-mail me privately about a security issue.
Mary said yes and soon received a friendly e-mail from the chatter, who gave his real name: Sam. She replied in kind. Then Sam gently suggested that she change her screen name from her real name to a fake one. He told Mary he was the head of computer security at a bank, and thus had some experience with these types of privacy issues. He gave her the telephone number of the human resources department at the bank so she could verify his employment.
Sam told her it was not safe in his opinion for a single woman or, in fact, for any woman to use her real name on the Internet. Mary took his advice and subsequently e-mailed him her new username at Yahoo! After that, they started e-mailing regularly, writing about her teaching, his work, their kids, etc.
It was all just casual conversation for the most part, Mary says.
Eventually, she felt comfortable enough with Sam to share more personal details about herself and her religious beliefs. She waited anxiously for his reply. When she got it, she found they shared the same interests. She was ecstatic.
From then on he called almost every night, Mary recalls. After about two months of phoning and more e-mails, I decided that I really liked him.
In 1998, Mary and Sam were married. On the question of whether Sam was really a millionaireconsidering the chat room she met him inMary winks and coyly says, That online encounter changed my life for the better and forever. I have been laughing ever since.

Online Dating Resources

Of the hundreds of online dating sites available, here is a listing of some of the most popular. Try doing a search for online dating in your favorite search engine to find additional sites, and add other terms to the search if you have special dating interests. There are any number of specialized dating sites, for instance gothicmatch.com, veggiedate.com, and millionairematch.com.

www.dateseeker.net
This site compares the major online dating sites to help you find the one that fits you best. It also offers dating tips and shows you how to write a good profile.

www.match.com
One of the oldest dating sites (founded in 1995), Match.com claims that 49% of online users look for love online rather than offline.1  The site offers 3-day free trials to e-mail other members, after which you can sign up for package rates in 3-, 6-, and 12-month increments.

www.cupid.com
Cupid.com is known for its advertising campaign, which it claims attracts more new members than any other comparable site. It offers a free basic membership which allows you to place a personal ad/profile with photo, send and receive Eye Contacts (to let someone know youre interested), and reply to a member who contacts you. Full-fledged memberships are available in 1-, 3-, 6- & 12-month increments.

www.eHarmony.com
You fill out a personality profile and the service scientifically selects the best matches for you. According to Marilyn Warren of eHarmony, membership includes more women than men but the gap is narrowing; over 10% of members are over age 55. This is the only dating site Im aware of that boasts a team of Ph.D. psychologists who conduct follow-up research into the quality of the relationships that result. It also charges more than most other sites, starting at $49.95 for a one-month subscription. eHarmony claims over 6,000 marriages to its credit since 2001.

http://uk.date.com
One of many dating sites in the United Kingdom, uk.date.com has been around since 1997. Membership starts at $24.95/month. It claims to have over two million members worldwide.

www.true.com
Over 90% of women said theyd feel better if members of online dating sites were pre-screened.2  All members of true.com go through criminal background and marital screening checks. In fact, when you log into their Web site a warning appears:
If you are married and posing as single, be aware that you could be guilty of fraud and subject to civil and criminal penalties under federal and state law. For each offense, Title 18, Section 1343 of the U.S. Code authorizes fines of up to $250,000 and jail sentences of up to five years.3 TRUE reserves the right to report violators to law enforcement authorities and seek prosecution or civil redress to the fullest extent of the law. If you are married, please close your browser.
That may sound intimidating, but if you have nothing to hideno problem!

Seniorfriendfinder.com
This is not the only dating site for seniors but is one of the best known. It offers a free standard membership and is for those who are looking for friends or serious relationships and not merely flings. The site does not tolerate verbal abuse or harassment and will block anyone who doesnt follow the rules. According to Peggy Pendergast of SeniorFriendFinder, the average age of members is 52.14. The site offers niche dating options for specific cultures and religions, for example, asianfriendfinder.com and jewishfriendfinder.com.

Personals.yahoo.com
Fast, free, fun. Because it is free, however, there is a greater chance youll encounter someone who is not as reputable as his or her profile suggests. Adhere to the dating tips in this chapter, look at profiles with good quality photos only, and be sure to get all your questions answered satisfactorily before meeting anyone in person.

Not OK in the UK
Some people who try online dating services swear by them. Others are not so keen. But its pretty much the same with offline dating services, isnt it? Sometimes a person will find the love of his or her life, and sometimes just an interesting person to go out and have a good time with.
Or a truly bad experience.
Jennifer met Mike through an Internet dating/friendship site in May 2002. They exchanged several e-mails before arranging to meet at a local pub in London. As with all new encounters, especially a blind date such as this, things were a little awkward at first. But they hit it off and started to see each other regularly.
He was a nice, friendly guy and we got on well, Jennifer says. We did not have an enormous amount in common but it became a comfortable relationship.
In October, Jennifer and a few of her girlfriends went to Kenya on a vacation she had planned before meeting Mike. She tried to e-mail him when she could, but Internet access wasnt always available or reliable. When she returned, Mike did not seem to trust her. He began questioning who she was talking with, where she was going when she went out without him, and so on. Troubled by his increasing possessiveness, Jennifer split up with him in November, six months after theyd met online.
It didnt end there. The next two months consisted of giving it another try, breaking up again, and trying yet again. He continued to use online dating services, even during the times when their on-again/off-again relationship was on, and that bothered Jennifer.
I had been fond of this man and it hurt to see him chasing other women, she says with a sigh. He made it clear, though, that he found it unacceptable for me to do the same.
Each time they broke up, Mike would send her nasty e-mails and go into angry tirades on the phone. Finally, she could take no more, and decided to end the relationship permanently in January 2003.
Although Mike started up again with the derogatory calls and e-mail messages, Jennifer ignored him. He continued to use the online dating services, and on one of them she encountered a statement in his profile that disturbed her. It went something like, My last girlfriend dumped me because I am about to be bereaved. She called and asked him to remove the sentence. Instead, he changed it to something even more disturbing and ignored her subsequent requests to remove it.
Jennifer decided to try to put the situation behind her and start dating again. She updated her profile on the dating Web site where she and Mike had met. When he saw it, he began to heap even more abuse on her through his profile. Next, he copied her profile, posed as her, and studied the profiles of men who had been in touch with her. (The dating site they used allowed users to monitor access to their personal profiles).
Jennifer decided to create a new profile with a new username. Soon, however, she began to notice odd things happening. Someone would add her to his favorites list but when she went to view the individuals profile, it would be gone. Once, when she changed the wording on her new profile, she checked out Mikes profile and noticed that he had changed his wording as well. It was word-for-word the same as hers. She received e-mails from addresses she didnt recognize, but which she felt sure were from Mike. While they werent threatening, they indicated the sender or senders knew more about her than any stranger could.
I felt that my every move on the Internet was being watched, Jennifer recalls. I felt threatened and harassed by this man and simply wanted him to leave me alone.
She eventually removed her profile and changed her e-mail address and telephone number. A mutual friend of theirs was a police officer and she explained to him what had been going on and asked for help. This antagonized Mike. When she checked his profile, it was abusive toward her again, with such phrases as:

Unfortunately I have been unlucky enough to have known a truly evil woman and she has been reported to the police

An utter twat has reacted rather viciously to my accidental visit.  Ive just noticed a group on yahoo that looks interesting.  Think Ill go and join it right now

And
Only those who have been told tales behind my back will know who someone is.

into  her Hotmail e-mail account (by guessing the correct answer to the secret question required to retrieve the current password), changed that password and began e-mailing people she knew, pretending to be her. The police issued him a warning and the e-mails stopped.
A year later, Jennifer decided to take a stab at online dating again and put up a new profile. So far, so good. Mike hasnt reappeared and she is hopeful that she may yet find the man of her dreams online.

Online Dating Safety Tips

1) If theres something in a profile that concerns you, raises a red flag, or just doesnt match up with what youre looking for, move on.

2) When you find an interesting profile, take your time e-mailing back and forth, asking the questions that are important to you before exchanging telephone number or making plans to meet in person.

3) Googling4 can offer important clues to what an individual is like, especially if he or she has a personal or professional Web site or has posted or been profiled on the Web. You may discover contradictions to what youve been told. If you want to be sure youre not corresponding with a married person, stick with dating services like www.true.com that conduct marital screenings. A word of advice dont tell them you did Google them. It may put a damper on a potential relationship.

4) Once youve decided to meet for the first time, do so in a public place and dont make it dinner (too intimate). Try lunch, coffee, a local fair, festival, or some similarly casual venue where you know other people will be present. Arrange to meet there; do not pick up your date or agree to be picked up. If an unpleasant date follows up afterward asking to meet again, decline by e-mail or phone, stating firmly yet politely that you are not interested.

5) Trust your instincts. If something feels wrong, dont pursue the relationship.

When Trust Turns to Terror
Kay decided to take a chance with online dating. It had been 12 years since she divorced her abusive ex-husband and she felt she was ready to try to find love again. A middle-aged Christian living in Texas, Kay joined AmericanSingles.com.

She soon began corresponding with a man who lived in another state, who well call Mark. They progressed to exchanging telephone numbers and had numerous conversations over the next several months. Their talks turned to marriage. Kay was ecstatic with joy. When Mark invited her to visit him at his expense, she was comfortable enough with their relationship to accept his offer, but on her terms. She made it clear she believed in no sex before marriage and he promised to honor her request.

Kay arrived at the airport and Mark appeared to be just as he seemed online and over the phone, a caring, funny, nice guy. However, as he drove to his house, which was a couple of hours from the airport, she began to feel uneasy. Previously, he had always been a gentleman when they communicated. In the car, though, he began to pepper his conversation with profanity and called her derogatory names. By the time she realized shed made a mistake, she knew he was not going to let her leave easily. She feared for her life.

For two weeks she was his hostage. He raped her twice, causing many physical injuries. She wasnt allowed out of his sight, even when using the bathroom. If she made a phone call, it was in his presence so that he could monitor what she said. During this entire time, she tried to formulate a plan to escape. She realized her only hope was to pretend she enjoyed being with him and that she would marry him. Once she felt he had fallen for this, she told him she had to return home to tie up loose ends before the wedding. He readily agreed.

She flew home, moved, changed her phone number to an unlisted one and sent one letter to him requesting that he stop contacting her. She breathed a sigh of relief when received no reply. That relief was shortlived when her son began receiving phone calls from Mark, who threatened him and his family, as well as Kay, if the son would not tell Mark where Kay was.

He called my work identifying himself as FBI agent Williams and threatened the person who answered the phone that he would be in this area immediately to talk with her, Kay says worriedly. Of course she denied that I work there. It is driving me nuts, but still, so far as I know, he does not know exactly where I am.

Because of what happened to her, Kay got involved with online dating legislation, which would require all dating web sites to disclose whether or not they do criminal background checks on members.

Kay isnt alone in supporting this legislation. Herb Vest, found of True.com, which does criminal background checks, also got involved.

Protecting individuals from crime is a passion of mine, he notes. My father was senselessly murdered, so I know firsthand the impact of violent crime on a family. Therefore, I want to do everything I can to protect citizens from that pain. I know criminal background screening works as a first layer of protection in the online dating environment.

This is where Rapsheets.com comes in. Co-founded by Edgar Rains in 2002, Rapsheets.com was a spinoff from another enterprise hed started in 1995.

At that point (2002) we housed the world’s largest privately-held database of criminal records, he states.

Today, Rapsheets.com conducts criminal background checks in 47 states and Washington, D.C. They boast on their web site:
Our National Criminal Index, covering more than 170 million criminal records from the vast majority of America’s population centers, can turn up a person’s criminal records in states or counties that might be excluded from an in-person, courthouse check.
When True.com became a customer of Rapsheets.com in 2003, Rains advised them of the legislative issues pertaining to online dating. And the rest is history.

Through True.coms research (www.true.com/saferdating/true_safer_surveys_all.asp), theyve found there is a high rate of repeat offenders that use online dating services to meet people.  Many violent acts of crime could have been, and can still be avoided. But since background checks are not foolproof,  True.com couples criminal background checks with safer dating tips and they wished other online dating sites would fall in line and do the same. Why? Because it works:

On average, we reject 5 percent of individuals per month for felony convictions, Vest declares. During a 15-month period in Texas alone, we have denied more than 500 individuals from communicating with other members due to entering incorrect or false data, being married, or being a felon.  Of that 500, 134 were convicted felons, with crimes ranging from homicides to sexual assaults, injuries to children, aggravated assaults, organized crime, stalking and terrorist threats. In Florida, some 497 individuals were rejected from True.coms system during a four-month period for material misrepresentations, felony and sexual offense convictions.

Rains concurs. I do think criminal background checks of online dating subscribers are worthwhile when done through reliable databases (like Rapsheets.com). With the dramatic expansion of Internet commerce, we are seeing a growing, and I believe increasingly dangerous, disconnect between customers and the companies providing goods and services to those customers via the web. In the matter of online dating, this is an especially important point because of the very real peril of  serious personal injury or death to unwary subscribers.

But Rains warns that there are limitations to these background checks.  No database is perfect.  And even if one had access to a database containing every arrest record, every conviction record, and every jail record in the US (and no one does), no screening is foolproof. For example, there is a huge misconception among legislators, law enforcement, and the general public that the FBI database contains comprehensive records. This is simply not the case. In fact, there are several commercial databases of criminal records containing not only far more records in absolute numbers, but more timely and accurate information, as well. So, I think background checks are a good idea, but I advise caution nevertheless.

Bernice Burns, for one, is all for criminal background checks at online dating sites. She dated a man she met offline and discovered too late he had a violent criminal background. When she decided she was ready to give dating another try, she put a profile on more than a half a dozen web sites, including True, eHarmony, BBW Finder (Big Beautiful Woman Finder), Large Friends, and Yahoo.

True was the last site I joined. Then the warning popped up that said they did background checks, Bernice says. It made me start thinking about whether the other sites did these background checks.  I went back to all of them and contacted each site and began asking questions. Most did not even reply!

Since then, shes stayed with True.com, still looking for the love of her life.

A Mans View
Its not only women who have a hard time finding love online. Tim, an attorney in Boston, decided to give online dating a try when he moved, mainly because he was new in town and didnt have a social circle yet to draw any potential dates from.
Although he wouldnt specify which dating Web sites he tried, he says thatin his opinion90% of the profiles were rewrites of some original prototype female profile.
Relatively few show courage and/or originality, he says. I ended up with five truly boring first dates for coffee, and nothing after that.
He eventually started dating someone hed met offline, and theyre still together. His view on online dating is that its overrated.
I personally feel youre better off dating friends and friends of friends, where both sides have more of an idea of personality and matching before any sort of romantic pressure builds that could cloud both judgment and true persona.
Spoken like a true lawyer.
Jeff, on the other hand, found his true love online. He had a female friend go over his profile before he put it up on Cupid.com. Its a good thing, too. She ended up rewriting it, noting that he had fibbed about his height. She told him if he really wanted to meet someone hed have to be honest from the get-go.
He ended up meeting Lily, who surprisingly lived five minutes from his house. They both had dogs and for their first date took their dogs to a lake nearby. Jeff thought Lily was a bit snooty. Lily thought Jeff wanted the date over because he walked so quickly. However, the two decided to give it a shot anyway and are still together almost three years later.

(sidebar)
Online Dating Facts5
84 percent of visitors to dating services are online five or more times a week
Almost 50 percent are between 25-44
37 percent have been online for seven or more years
Divorcees are more than three times as likely to use a dating site, while singles are only more than twice as likely to do the same.
Divorcees make up only 8 percent of Internet users aged 18+, yet represent 27 percent of individuals using an online dating site
Of those acknowledging they accessed an online dating service, 11 percent were married individuals
Those using an online dating site also access the Internet to send online invitations, search for homes and apartments, download MP3s, look for restaurants, and participate in fantasy sports leagues
(end sidebar)

Chat Romances or B-Movies?
Rea, who lives in southern California, dated a man she met in a widow and widower support room on AOL. Ron said he had been widowed twice. When they met in person it was for coffee less than a half mile from her sisters house.
He talked me into lunch and prayed over our meal, Rea recalls. He was kind, funny, and intelligent so we met a few other times for lunch or dinner, usually with me meeting him halfway. When I felt he was trustworthy enough, I invited him to my place for dinner. He left at about 10 that night during one of the worst storms my part of the state had ever seen. I didnt hear from him or see him online for 10 days after that.
Rea wondered if shed done something wrong. Maybe she should have let Ron stay at her house that night. When his name popped up on her AOL IM buddy list, she IMd him and found it was his wife who was online. After the shock of finding out he was married, Rea and Rons wife chatted and cried for what seemed like hours.
I kept reassuring her that nothing inappropriate had taken place, Rea says. She kept begging me for my phone number and address, which something in my gut told me to refuse to do.
When daylight arrived, Rons wife told Rea she was going to go into the widow and widowers chat room to let everyone know she was Rons wife and that hed been lying about being widowed. Rea agreed to join her and got there just in time to see her tell the room that Rea was her husbands mistress and had stolen him away from her.
Luckily, many of the people there knew me and had chatted with Ron. They told her it was bull, Rea says, shaking her head. My roommates did some research and found he had a harem all over the Valley, and none of them were willing to give him up even though the fact that he was married was now out. I was the only woman who refused further contact with him.
It didnt end there. For the next two months Rons wife stalked Rea online. She IMd Rea and called her filthy names. Rons children (or the wife pretending to be them) IMd her as well, telling her they hoped shed rot in hell. One night Rons wife informed Rea she had a gun and was going to use it. This frightened Rea so much she reached over and unplugged the computer.
When I quit shaking enough to get back online to report her to a moderator, I had nothing to prove she was stalking  meshutting off the computer erased the IM chat, Rea says. But the moderator instructed me how to block her IMs. For a while, shed sit in the chatroom while I was there but then little by little her threats stopped. Eventually, she quit appearing in the chat room when I was there.
Rea learned a valuable lesson. Check out your online date thoroughly before meeting in person.
In Australia, Greg, a tech-savvy promoter, had a little spare time on his hands. He decided to check out some chat rooms, first at work and then at home.
He had some sexy chat with Jo, who claimed to be blond and a pretty good squash player. Sexy, liked sports, and a Scorpiojust like Greg. This sounded promising.
During the first few dates, everything was normal. Then Jos conversation began to include ex-boyfriends, an Internet criminal, borrowing money, and more. During one of their phone calls, Jo asked him to start documenting their e-mailsso she could have a record. Greg was unsure why she wanted this but he complied. He had fallen hard for her.
We met again in person and she encouraged me to move in with her, Greg says. Arrangements were made and I started to move in my most precious items, some sales and marketing trophies.
When Greg talked of moving in more of his things, Jo suddenly stopped answering the phone. She lived over an hour away but Greg made time to drive to her place. He felt she was home but not answering the door.
When Greg finally heard from Jo, she said she wanted to take it slow. She never explained why she got cold feet. Still strongly drawn to her, Greg forgave her. They started seeing more of each other, each time becoming more and more intimate.
Then there was another sudden disappearance on Jos part. Greg had enough of it by now and cut off all ties with her.
She still calls me about once a year, usually on a holiday like Christmas, Greg says. Each time I tell her not to contact me again in any way, shape, or form. But sure enough, the next year I get a call. Id advise anyone who is thinking of finding a date via chat to be very careful. You could find troubleor a stalker.
Lucky for Greg he lost only trophies and nothing more valuable.

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