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Entries in Online Dating (7)

Monday
Dec032012

Over 50 and Looking for Love? New Dating Site for the Older Crowd

Photos.com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Mention AARP, and most people think of Social Security, Medicare, senior discounts but not love.

Now the group is now getting into the dating business, launching an online dating channel, and an online dating site for the over 50 crowd.

"AARP wanted to get into the game because, one, we know isolation is a very big issue for our members as they age,” said Nataki Edwards, vice president of digital strategies and operations at AARP.

Edwards says a quarter of the group’s 37 million members are single, and many have been asking the organization to help them link up with others. “It’s not necessarily about getting married,” Edwards told ABC News. “It’s about the companionship and having fun things to do with someone else.”

AARP’s new venture is not the first dating site geared toward older Americans. It’ll be competing with OurTime, which bills itself as the premier online 50+ dating service. AARP is partnering with HowAboutWe.com, which believes in getting people out on dates early on to see if they hit it off rather than spending a lot of time getting to know each other online, only to find there’s no chemistry when they meet in person.

Edwards calls it “dating like they used to date.” That appeals to Shelley Kilburn, who describes herself as a “54 year old SWF (single while female).” Kilburn likes the idea of meeting face-to face, telling ABC News, “When you talk to someone in person you get a better image or feeling, you have that ability to use … that sixth sense.” Kilburn, a former news colleague, has been divorced for five years. The Southern California resident hasn’t tried online dating yet but says she might gravitate to an AARP site because for her the group has a trustworthy “history and reputation, [so] I would be comfortable.”

Carol Siflinger agrees, writing in response to a Facebook question about the new site, “It is a great idea! I would hope singles going to this site would be of a better caliber than “meat market” sites! For those 50 and older, trying to date again can be daunting.

“It’s not so easy for people because many of them haven’t dated for 30 years or more,” said relationship expert Pepper Schwartz, who’s written extensively on sexuality. Pepper, who is also AARP’s Love and Relationship Ambassador, says online dating can be especially unnerving.

“Honestly, I think most of them go kicking and screaming. They wouldn’t do this if there was another option.” Schwartz, who is 67, met her fiancé online. “It’s not easy: you have to work at it. You have to be resilient.”

Of course, Schwartz adds, that’s not necessarily age-related. “Whoever found dating easy,” she says, “even when they were younger.”

Looking for a companion online worked wonderfully for Becky Hedlund Lemaire, of Breaux Bridge, La., who met her husband of six years through an online service. She says no matter which dating site you rely on, it’s important to take safety seriously. “Always meet in public,” says Lemaire. “Don’t give out personal information, and make sure someone knows where you are going to meet.”

AARP has tips too for the more mature dater, suggesting you don’t spend the first date talking only about your children or grandchildren, or your aches and pains. The organization says its new online dating channel will help with dating advice.

Those popular senior discounts will come into play too. AARP is offering a seven-day free trial, then half-off the dating service price for its members. AARP’s Edwards won’t be using the new service, because “I am married myself.” However, she’s laughs, “I have sent it to every single friend that I have who is looking.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun252012

Colorado Mother, Daughter Charged in Military Online Dating Scam

Tracy Vasseur, left, and her mother, Karen Vasseur. (Colorado Attorney General)(BRIGHTON, Colo.) -- A mother and daughter in Colorado were indicted for their role in a "Nigerian internet romance scam" in which associates in Nigeria posed as members of the U.S. Armed Forces and stole over $1 million from 374 victims.

Tracy Vasseur, 40, and her mother, Karen Vasseur, 73, of Brighton, Colo., about 21 miles north of Denver, face a hearing on Tuesday in the Adams County District Court.  The Colorado Attorney General, John Suthers, said the two were part of a scam since 2009 that "lured unsuspecting women to internet dating sites by posing as members of the U.S. military serving in Afghanistan.  The Vasseurs' 374 victims over a three year period were based throughout the United States and from 40 other countries."

The Vasseurs were indicted on 20 counts in violations of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, money laundering and theft in a 27-page document filed by Suthers' office.  Tracy Vasseur faces up to 205 years in prison if convicted on all counts; Karen Vasseur faces up to 172 years in prison.

"After a phony relationship was established, victims were asked to send money and were led to believe that the soldiers would use the money to retrieve property, travel to the U.S., and pay other expenses," the attorney general's office said in a statement.

The mother-daughter duo worked with associates in Nigeria, wiring most of the stolen money to them and kept about a 10 percent cut "although they would often receive less," the indictment stated.  The Vasseurs sent stolen money addressed to 112 different names in Nigeria, but most often to "Olamigoke Ayodeji."  They also wired money to individuals in Ecuador, Great Britain, India, United Arab Emirates and the U.S.

Most of the victims were women, the indictment stated, "looking for love and companionship on the internet" on various dating sites and social networking sites like Facebook.  During the "Nigerian internet romance scam," the attorney general's office said the Vasseurs never made contact with the victims, nor did they ever meet with their associates abroad.  But the Vasseurs engaged in "regular, frequent and detailed discussions" about where the money and how much would be sent.  Tracy Vasseur allegedly set up a "dating website" for one of her associates, the indictment stated.

"After an online relationship was established, the perpetrator would often send the victim fake military documents and personal photographs in order to convince the victim that they were truly a member of the U.S. military serving in a foreign country, usually Afghanistan," the indictment filing stated.

"After a relationship was established, the purported military member would begin asking the victim to send money to an 'agent' in Colorado," primarily through electronic fund transfer services like Western Union or Money Gram, according to the indictment.  "Among other reasons, victims were frequently told that the money they sent would pay for satellite phones, so that the victim and the perpetrator could talk directly to each other, or for travel expenses, so that the "soldier" could take authorized leave from duty to visit the victim in the U.S."

The money transferred was usually over $10,000 and as high as $59,000, according to the indictment.

None of the victims, "including 29 at-risk adults," that investigators spoke to had their money returned, the indictment stated.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun212012

NJ Woman Sues Matchmaking Service After Date of 'Horror'

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Jeanne McCarthy, 65, thought she would meet a "quality" man when she paid $7,000 for a professional matchmaking service.  Instead, she said she got one date with a man with three drunk driving convictions and an outstanding criminal warrant.

McCarthy is suing her local Lawrenceville, N.J., branch of Two of Us, a brick and mortar matchmaking service with 15 offices nationwide.  Instead of the online dating services, like eHarmony, Two of Us "promises to arrange 'matches' with another member for the purposes of arranging a dating relationship between those individuals."

Two of Us "would merely collect a fee from anyone who signed up and would simply match members at random," the suit states.

McCarthy, a technical writer living in New Jersey, learned of Two of Us through its advertising campaign and went to the local office for a consultation.  The advertising stated that the company screens its members and performs a criminal background check, according to McCarthy's lawsuit, filed on June 4 in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Mercer County.

She said she was told by a representative that "Two of Us would provide quality matches at the rate of one or two during every two-week period."

McCarthy and her attorney, David Knapp, declined to comment.

McCarthy is suing PMM Inc., which is doing business as Two of Us in Lawrenceville, for breach of contract, fraud and consumer fraud, and requests her money back plus unspecified punitive damages.  The suit states Two of Us breached their agreement by failing to "provide one or two matches over a two month period as promised and by failing to adequately evaluate and screen the matches" referred to her.

On Jan. 13, 2011, McCarthy signed up for a membership agreement for a non-refundable fee of $7,000.  The agreement states, "Two of Us provides for the initial member interview, member testing, background checks and overall evaluation and screening..."

But she said Two of Us provided "only two matches over a five month period which yielded only one date."

"To her horror, [McCarthy] determined that this one date involved a man with three drunk driving convictions and [an] outstanding criminal warrant in Arizona," the suit stated.

Her date was a 73-year-old widower from Arizona who told her he received the convictions after his wife died and was moving to New Jersey so he could get a driver's license, according to The Trentonian.

McCarthy wanted a man 58 to 67 years old with an active lifestyle like her, according to the newspaper.

McCarthy "terminated the agreement and demanded an immediate refund of her fee.  Despite repeated requests, [Two of Us] has refused to do so," the suit states.

Ethan Baker, Two of Us' vice president of operations and general counsel, said the company has not been served yet and could not comment on the specific allegations of the lawsuit.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Aug272011

Online Love Triangle Ends in Murder

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Internet is known as a breeding ground for illicit affairs between people often hiding behind fake names and handles. But most such virtual relationships are not as dangerous as when "Talhotblond" and "MarineSniper" struck up an online relationship that ended in murder.

MarineSniper was 46-year-old Thomas Montgomery, a married father of two. In May 2005, he posed as a young, handsome Iraq-bound Marine and entered a teen chat room on the popular game site "Pogo."

When 18-year-old Talhotblond started instant-messaging him, he decided to pretend he was 18, too.

"I kept thinking, well, we're never going to meet. I'll just play the game with her," he said.

Before long, the flirtation blossomed into a romance.

Talhotblond's instant messages revealed that her real name was Jessi, who was a softball-playing high school senior from West Virginia. She sent Montgomery photos that lived up to her racy screen name.

"There were some very provocative poses," he said.

In return, Jessi wanted to see what he looked like so he sent her his photo from Marine boot camp.

The picture was 30 years out of date. Montgomery's screen name, MarineSniper, was a nostalgic harkening back to the six years he spent in the military as a young man.

Instant messages recovered from Montgomery’s computer showed that the online relationship began to consume him. He told 20/20 that this relationship "became more real to me than real life."

The feeling appeared to be mutual. Jessi and "Tommy" exchanged gifts, phone calls and love letters.

"There was virtual sex going on in there between her and Tommy," he said.

While Montgomery said the virtual sex made him "feel kind of dirty," he was in too deep to sever ties with her.

Montgomery seemed to be losing touch with reality. He wrote a note to himself, "On Jan. 2, 2006 Tom Montgomery (46 years old) ceases to exist and is replaced by an 18-year-old battle-scarred marine. He is moving to West Virginia to be with the love of his life."

In March 2006, Montgomery told 20/20 that one of his daughters was using his computer when Jessi happened to instant message him. Montgomery's wife, alerted by her daughter, found a trove of love letters, photos and mementos from Jessi, including a pair of red panties. She sent Jessi a photo of her family and a letter.

"Let me introduce you to these people," she wrote. "The man in the center is Tom, my husband since 1989. He is 46 years old."

Montgomery said Jessi was horrified, and broke off the relationship immediately. "She sends me a text message and says, she hates me, you should be put in jail for this," he told 20/20.

Jessi also e-mailed one of Montgomery's co-workers, a 22-year-old attractive part-time machinist and college student named Brian Barrett to see if it was really true.

Brian, who went under the screen name "Beefcake," consoled Jessi online.

Before long, Jessi was sending Brian her photos and the two had become an online fling. MarineSniper was consumed with jealousy.

"Brian will pay in blood," Montgomery instant messaged Jessi at one point.

His messages became increasingly violent, as he was forced to watch their romance blossom in the same chat rooms he used to frequent with Jessi.

But the IMs that came from Talhotblond showed her to be torn—mad one instant and then desperate to return to loving a man who she knew didn't exist.

Jessi eventually rekindled close relations with Montgomery again.

Montgomery knew he was in way over his head, but he couldn't bring himself to end things with her again.

At one point, when his wife actually told him to get off the computer and talk to her, Montgomery couldn't. "I just told her I'll get off when I'm done," he recalled.

Jessi finally told Montgomery they were through, and returned to Barrett again while Montgomery began to go into a downward spiral.

"The obsession turns into jealousy, and then the jealousy turns into betrayal and revenge," said District Attorney Frank Sedita. "You really start to get a, a sense of this person going into an abyss. And it's kind of frightening."

The tipping point arrived when Barrett decided to meet Talhotblond in person.

Montgomery learned of the plan and was incensed.

On Sept. 15, 2006, Barrett was found dead in the parking lot where he worked, shot three times by a military rifle.

“At three in the morning,” Capt. Ron Kenyon told 20/20, “our first concern was talking to Jessi and making sure she was still alive.”

But when police arrived at her home, they were in for a surprise when a woman named Mary Shieler opened the door.

Shieler had been sending messages to Montgomery and Barrett under the name Talhotblond. The pictures she sent Montgomery were actually those of her daughter—the real Jessi—who had no knowledge of her mother's cyberlife.

Montgomery was charged and later plead guilty to the murder of Brian Barrett. He received a 20-year sentence.

Mary Shieler didn't come away unscathed. Her husband divorced her over her deception and her daughter Jessi cut ties too, moving in with relatives in Virginia, where she was attending college.

Mary Shieler also pursued an education at a community college in West Virginia.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun202011

Dating Site Dumps 30,000 'Ugly' Members?

JupiterImages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The website BeautifulPeople.com -- designed for people who like mirrors -- claims to have booted 30,000 members who weren't pretty enough or handsome enough to meet their standards. The site claims that the substandard lookers snuck onto the site's rolls with the help of an online virus dubbed "Shrek," named after the good-hearted but unsightly fictional ogre of the same name.

"Obviously this is a bitter pill to swallow so we've done everything we can do minimize damage," said Greg Hodge, the managing director of BeautifulPeople.com.

Members are voted onto the site by a majority vote from current members of the opposite sex, what Hodge calls a "purely democratic system" designed to ensure a community of fellow good-lookers.

But last month, the "Shrek" virus, coined after the ugly cartoon character who valued inner beauty, compromised the rating system allowing even those who received a majority of negative votes to join the site.

The result: 35,000 additional applicants were mistakenly accepted onto the site. All 35,000 were later taken off the site to await a re-vote once the virus was identified. Of the 30,000 who were voted off, the largest number of rejects, 11,924, came from the U.S., while Britain followed at a distant second with 3,156 rejections.

According to BeautifulPeople.com, status reports indicating a 100-percent acceptance rate combined with a flood of email complaints from members about slipping standards alerted the site directors that something had gone awry.

The company originally thought that the "Shrek" virus was blowback from one of its 5.5 million previously rejected users. But after a closer look, in-house technicians realized that it was most likely an inside job by a former employee.

Rejected members have all been refunded -- to the upside of $100,000 total since last week.

The site has also set up a hotline to help recently booted applicants deal with the rejection and can give tips for those wishing to re-apply. So far, only about 400 of those have called the helpline.

Monday morning, a new site with updated security was announced to safeguard against future cases of a virus attack. Hodge said, "The system is in full working order and all of our members can rest assured that their votes will continue to count in keeping their community as they want it: beautiful."

In addition, a team of "beauty police" from around the world have been recruited to safeguard against future infiltrators who do not meet the site's standards.

Currently, BeautifulPeople.com acknowledges itself as the largest community of attractive people in the world. Despite the recent rejections, the site has over 700,000 members worldwide.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr192011

Woman Suing Match.Com Over Alleged Assault Comes Forward

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The once anonymous woman who filed a lawsuit against the online dating website Match.com because of an alleged sexual assault has come forward to say she's glad her suit got results.

"I'm tired of hiding behind masks and glasses," said Carole Markin on ABC’s Good Morning America. "I want to come forward and speak for the other Jane Does and Joe Blows who've been abused by sexual predators and give them courage to do something for themselves."

Last week, Markin, then only publically identified only as Jane Doe, filed the civil lawsuit asking a court to force Match.com to install a sex offender screening system that checks the background of those who register for the site.

The lawsuit had asked for a temporary restraining order that, if granted, would prevent new members from signing up for Match.com until such a program is instituted. It claims Markin and the man went on a date that turned violent.

The lawsuit said the man went to Markin's house after they had dinner last May and he forced her to perform a sexual act. Alan Paul Wurtzel was arrested and charged but no trial date has been set. Wurtzel's attorney maintains the sexual encounter was consensual and a trial date has not been set in that case.

Match.com officials announced Sunday it will start to screen users against a national sex offenders registry.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr112011

Dating Website Lets Members Buy, Sell First Dates

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Maybe money can't buy you love but, if you name the right price, it can get you a first date.

At least that's how it works on WhatsYourPrice.com, where members who label themselves "generous" flash dollar signs to bid for the chance to take "attractive" members out on a date.

The buying and selling of beautiful singles may sound like prostitution, but the site's founder, Brandon Wade, insists that WhatsYourPrice is about paying for first dates, not paying for sex.

"If you look at the way charity events are held, you have these firemen and beautiful prom kings and queens [up for bid]," he said. "People are already doing this around the world, obviously for charity, but a similar concept would apply here."

But this site isn't just for people seeking so-called "mutually beneficial relationships" – Wade says it's for anyone looking for relationships.

For "attractive" singles, he said the site provides a more efficient way of reaching only the most serious, most desirable candidates. For "generous" singles, WhatsYourPrice.com says it guarantees they date only the people who meet their high standards.

Offers typically range from $20-$100 a date, although Wade said he knows one member who tried to offer $1,000 for a date. As the members go through the negotiation process, all they can see are each others' pictures and profiles, which include their net worth and income.

When two members agree on the price of a date, the site takes a small percentage of the cost and then "unlocks" the conversation between the two parties.

But what about the notion of true love? Doesn't paying for a date get a couple off to a superficial start? Not so, according to Wade. Paying for dating is simply more efficient, not more materialistic, he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio