Valentine’s Day for many is the kick start to the spring romance season. Today, more than ever, the risks and hazards are lurking for the unsuspecting (and sometimes vulnerable) romantic.
We at R. Steven Rogers Investigations / Protective Services have, over the years, been retained to assist people in staying safe in several ways. From background checks to verify an identity, marital status, or to check for any criminal history, all the way to aiding a family with an intervention involving a victim of an online romance scam where not only serious financial impact had occurred but a significant threat of physical harm as well. We utilized resources both locally and internationally to achieve a satisfactory outcome for that case.
We also would like to offer some basic time-honored tips to help folks protect themselves, with both real world and online interactions. We have been seeing a lot more warnings internationally than in the US, but by and large the hazards are the same here.
While this article has some solid information in it, we disagree strongly with the following “Romance scammers are looking for one thing and one thing only — money —“ this is an absurd statement considering the number of other crimes committed. In 2016 a man in the UK was jailed for life after raping / sexually assaulting seven women he met on Match.com (link). Three were assaulted within months of his marrying a woman he met on the site, and despite four of his victims reporting him as a rapist to Match, they refused to terminate his profile or involve police (link).
In an unrelated incident, a woman was held like a slave, forced to perform chores and sexual acts, and was punished with physical abuse, having bleach dumped over her, and more (link). She fell for this because “she “felt lonely and wanted to be loved again” after a previous abusive relationship.”
Or this case where a team of criminals used a dating site to gain access to scout the victim’s residence out, then returned later robbing and killing him (link).
Some warning signs are:
- Asks for financial assistance, a loan, or anything similar
- If someone wants you to take a conversation to private messaging right away it can be to either avoid any oversight by the dating service or to gain personal information from you.
- Will send you pictures or text messages, but will not chat by phone or live on webcam.
- Claims to be from the U.S. or Canada, but is working overseas.
- Claims to be in love with you before even meeting you, or seems to be moving too quickly.
Some tips on meeting someone for the first time:
- Make it a public place
- Make sure a trusted friend or relative knows the details: Who, where, when, along with your vehicle description and license if applicable.
- Have a codeword set up for call/text with that person to immediately call 911 to your location. You can stay in touch with them by text during the date if necessary.
- Stay sober.
- If going to the restroom, do not drink from an unattended drink when returning. Either finish it beforehand, or utilize a clever ruse to get a new one, such as having a hair or piece of lint you can slip into it. This allows for safety without the insult that comes with just asking for a new drink.
Remember, checking someone out and taking precautions does not, by itself, cross the rules of polite behavior. Trust is earned, and until you have developed that trust you have every right to be cautious.
These days it is prudent to check people out before meeting them, bringing them into your life, possibly your home, even meeting your children. Just by giving them your real name you may have risk. Our firm handles everything from high-profile cases to basic background checks of employees, potential partners, etc. So whether it’s validating identity, confirming marital status, checking for criminal / sexual offender records, or other issues we can help you avoid trouble in paradise.
We can be reached at office (at) rstevenrogers (dot) com.