The hazards of online dating

Social media is great – right? I have made more connections through fb and Twitter than I can count, and have then met people face – to  - face and they have become friends. Cristina Costa, Ricardo Torres and many more. And online dating is a great way to meet people – right? You can find profiles of people you share things in common with, start a communication and get to know each other.

But there is a darker, more sinister side to online interactions and unfortunately I have just experienced it…. Here is my story…

I tried match.com a few years ago, but didn’t really have any luck, although I did meet someone who has since become a friend. I decided to give it another go and registered three weeks ago. On the Tuesday I saw someone’s profile who looked lovely and we seemed to share a lot in common. I sent him an email saying I liked his profile and if he liked mine to get in touch… He said his name was James Bishop, American, based in the UK for 4 years, divorced with a son in the States.

We started having mega email correspondence on the site and then moved to our personal emails. Then we connected on a messaging App called Touch and exchanged literally hundreds and hundreds of texts a day…. We arrange to meet in London two Saturdays ago. Then on the Thursday before he told me he had to go to Tokyo because of a work crisis…

Slowly but surely lots of things started to not add up… He sent me a friendship request on fb, I was his only friend. He said he didn’t like fb and only reactivated his account to connect with me… Plausible I thought but a little odd…. I suggested skyping, he said skype wasn’t working, something to do with upgrading his machine. We tried connecting via Google Hangouts, but it didn’t work, he said it was something to do with the hotel security network… We did have two brief phone calls. He sent me lots of pictures of him in Tokyo and his flight bookings, all looked genuine.

We rearranged to meet today – in the evening. He was due to fly back on Wednesday. Then he said he had had a car crash and lost his wallet. He rebooked the flight for today and again sent the flight details. But then this morning he said he was at the Western Union bank when he should have been at the airport… So by now I was very very suspicious and just waiting for him to ask for money. Which he did in an email…

Hey .. I hope you arrive safely .. Anyway some money came up and like I said I still need 3k pounds and is there anything you can do about it ??.. 

So that is that. I have de-friended and reported him on fb and will report him on match.com. 

I am embarrassed to admit that I fell for this… particularly given the nature of my work. But I feel it is important to blog about this to warn others… Yes Mr or Ms right may well be waiting for you on some internet dating site, but just be careful there are some real sickos out there. This is supposedly a picture of him, wonder who’s digital identity he has stolen. So I am a little shaken and bruised… but will put it down to an experience….

 james13.jpg

30 Responses to “The hazards of online dating”

  1. Cristina Costa Says:

    Unfortunately online environments also attacks a lot of people with dubious value systems and lack of integrity.

    I think for people like us, who have weaved rather close and reliable connections and networks, it is sometimes hard to believe in this world of online scamming and deceiving. As an informed person you saw the cues and you were able to understand that this person was not what/who he was saying he was very fast. Unfortunately, not everyone comes to this conclusion as quickly and many have lost their live savings http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/2012-08-13/im-not-used-to-being-lied-to/

    I pity the guy whose photos are being used. I wish we could find him so he could do something about it.

    Still I think there are a lot of advantages to online networks. We are connected ;-)

  2. Gráinne Says:

    Thanks Cris… hope this is a useful warning and will help other people to avoid the same thing happening to them

  3. Geraldine Langan Says:

    Seriously shocked at reading this and hurt for you. Really respect you sharing this personal experience to protect others. I had an unpleasant experience in second life and I haven’t returned to it, but I still believe in the value of technology. Wish you well.

  4. Annalisa Says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience, you shouldn’t be embarrassed at all! I think this is something that could happen to anyone and you realised on time the situation was not what you anticipated before.
    I agree with Cristina that there still a lot of advantages in online networks, just a shame that a handful of people still waste other people’s time and effort!
    :)

  5. Gráinne Says:

    Thanks Geraldine - we live and learn. Thankfully most people on social networks are genuine….

  6. Gráinne Says:

    Thanks Annalisa and yep I agree too…

  7. Viv Rolfe Says:

    Well done Grainne for sharing this. You’ve inspired me to blog my story about online dating too. It is a huge scam for so many different reasons and a horrible experience. You meet unsavoury characters, you are ripped off by Match.com and all the other companies (and their satellite companies) and it is difficult to cancel subscriptions. Best of luck to you and some lovely fella will be right round the corner :)

  8. Anne Spencer Says:

    A horrendous experience, which I believe you have been courageous in sharing.

  9. Doug Clow Says:

    Blimey! That must be awful. Hope you’re recovered from the shaken-ness soon. What a horrible thing to do.

    I wouldn’t say you fell for it though - you did stop short when he asked for hard-to-trace cash.

    You may already have done this, but the police have a central online fraud reporting system here: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report-a-fraud-including-online-crime-questions

    I doubt they’ll get him, but you never know, and at least it’ll help them have a better picture of what’s going on.

  10. Gráinne Says:

    Yep not nice Anne! And viv good for you I look forward to reading it - please post a link when you have done it. Doug thanks for the link I will definitely follow that up.

  11. Chris smith Says:

    Oh Grainne that’s a horrid story of deceit and I’m so sorry to hear this. These may be minority stories but we all need to be cautious and careful in getting involved in this way. Thanks for sharing to help us at least have this in mind as we communicate with so called ‘friends’
    Chris

  12. Gráinne Says:

    Thanks Chris and hope this does help some others to avoid being duped…

  13. Nats Says:

    oh my days Grainne, this is what happens when we havent had a chat in a while ! only joking … i can fill your page with a dozen more stories of internet dating including the ones where i’ve climbed out of a hotel window and been a two for one offer!!!!
    For all the scumbags out there, there are also the honest hearted ones .. its just more difficult to find them.
    HUGS

  14. Gráinne Says:

    LOL Nats - yes you need to look after me again, clearly not capable of being let out on my own ;-)

  15. Dominic Says:

    Don’t let the slyness of “James Bishop” divert you from being open and trusting. He’s just one crook whose “mark” was too smart to fall for his sting.
    Let it be a good dining out story!
    Time we had lunch again!!

  16. Gráinne Says:

    :-) Thanks Dominic and yep I am putting it down to experience…

  17. Jay Allyson Dempster Says:

    Hey Grainne. Def agree you *didn’t* fall for it. You started with a healthy hope & trust but kept alert when red flags were raised. Then you called him on it. Well done, handled it all brilliantly (with a little help from your friends!)

  18. Canan Says:

    Very sorry to hear that you were hurt by this person and hope that you are recovering quickly. Don’t let this change anything in you and I know it won’t as you shared it with us. Thanks for that.
    Hugs,
    Canan

  19. Lisa Durff Says:

    Where is this clod - I will beat him with my cane! How dare he (and how dare any of them ?)

  20. Gráinne Says:

    Thanks guys really appreciate your support

  21. Leigh Says:

    It was brave of you to publish this. Given what you do and your reputation, it must be, as you implied, doubly embarrassing. The positive however is that, given your reputation and what you do, it is doubly useful that you published this.

    Your message will have a wide reach and it will help others to talk about their experiences. Perhaps in the future you could follow up with a blog about net safety as I think that there is more of an overlap than we may think between our personal and professional lives as we merge social media more and more with education.

    I salute you :-).

  22. Dale Says:

    Maybe sometimes the older generation (and I am one of them!) think that this internet malarkey is an easy way to find someone of your dreams. It isn’t. Whilst it may be incredibly convenient it is not real. Nothing will ever beat being face to face with someone … only then can you truly get an inkling of what feels right, and what might be wrong.

  23. Gráinne Says:

    Hi Dale

    Yes agree totally you can’t know until you meet someone face to face… nonetheless as long as you are on your guard for frauds, online communication can be a good way to get to know someone.

  24. Gráinne Says:

    Thanks Leigh!

    It is great that so many people have picked up on this.

  25. Cathy Gunn Says:

    Hi
    I sympathize too, and am happy to report that my own experience of online dating has been no worse than some fun but mostly uninspiring coffee dates with men who have lied about their age, have aliens for friends, or are so arrogant I understand why they are single. They probably say similarly uncomplimentary things about me, though I have never lied about my age!

    The scammer who lead me about the same distance down a path used authentic UN job application forms, procedures and vacancy notices. After being ‘offered a position’ without a personal interview, I smelled a rat and asked for a number to call to discuss the ‘position’. At that point contact stopped, but I understand the next step would have been to ask me for money to buy into a subsidized housing scheme in Geneva. I was pretty shocked to have sent so much personal information (full CV + contact details) to a scammer, but like yourself, relieved to have realized what was happening before I did anything major like quit my job or book plane tickets.

    I still trust people until / unless they prove otherwise and won’t change that because there are scumbags out there trying to con money out of decent people. If only they would put all that effort into honest endeavors they would probably make as much, if not more money!

  26. Gráinne Says:

    Sorry to hear that experience Cathy…. we just have to put it down to experience… I believe there are nice people out there too…

  27. Dale Reardon Says:

    Hi,

    Sorry for your bad experience.

    I met my now wife on RSVP so there are definitely genuine people out there. Just have to filter out the bad ones.

    Dale.

  28. Gráinne Says:

    Thanks Dale and I agree there are lots of lovely genuine people out there, just need to be on guard… thanks for the comment and lovely story about how you met your wife!

  29. Chris Pegler Says:

    Grainne, well after the event adding my sympathy and also my thanks for sharing. Thanks also to others for sharing their experiences. I have none to share as my dating history is pre-web. Which had its own seedy side.

    You may get a laugh out of this http://bakermarketingservices.com/2013/03/im-writing-this-with-tears-in-my-eyes-the-day-i-almost-trapped-an-internet-scam-artist/ - someone who *played* a different sort of scam artist. I fished it out to send to the scammer who was trying to play my 75 year old mum with the same script. Not a dating site find but from a hacked email account of a friend. Glad to say she was canny enough to ask.

    Perhaps you could launch a competition for pictures of what James Bishop really looks like. A Christmas party game perhaps? Along the lines of the drawing by that blogger’s daughter? Although hopefully ‘James’ is long gone from your mind.

    Chris

  30. Gráinne Says:

    Thanks for the comments and the link Chris - have put it down to experience…

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