Sexual predators online dating statistics
"You get young naive women or the over-50 year olds who are recently divorced, they are often excited about meeting a new man and they make easy prey." In some instances, the first date ends in violence.
Last October, for example, police in Minnesota charged a 39-year-old man with raping a woman he met through the internet, after he slipped drugs into her drink that caused her to pass out. Police in Tampa, Florida last January arrested a Tennessee man who was wanted for swindling a woman he met online out of tens of thousands of dollars and leasing a Mercedes in her name that he wrecked, leaving her with more than ,000 in liabilities. The Safer Online Dating Alliance warns women on its website never to post photos of their children, nor to describe them in detail, saying that single mothers who openly say they seek partners who like children have inadvertently attracted paedophiles.
Although it is less common, men have also been victimised, usually by other men who are posing as women.
Bill Warner, a Florida private investigator who offers on his website to "sort out the winners from the losers" for a flat fee of US$169 (Dh620), says running background checks on potential internet dates now constitutes more than 50 per cent of his business.
"Usually the problem is that the man is married or he turns out to be one of these crazy stalker people that follows a woman for months," he said in a telephone interview.
In many cases, Mr Warner said he would discover that men had joined a site using a false name, a prepaid, throwaway cell phone and a phoney e-mail address from free services such as Yahoo or Hotmail.
"There are a lot of people out there who get jazzed up by disguising themselves," he said, adding that nearly 100 per cent of his cases involved women being victimised by men.
Industry experts say the website is unique in the field for warning on its home page that criminals and married men who come hunting "will be sorry if they do".