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05-Nov-2015 23:00

"When we pushed for more stringent background checks on online dating sites, one company told us the idea of asking for disclosure was creepy," said Bill Noble, the director of the Safer Online Dating Alliance."But what is actually creepy is having these creeps on your site." The numbers are worrisome - and horror stories abound.Bill Warner, a Florida private investigator who offers on his website to "sort out the winners from the losers" for a flat fee of US9 (Dh620), says running background checks on potential internet dates now constitutes more than 50 per cent of his business.

You may still get a raised eyebrow when telling people you are using the internet for your search for the perfect date, but no where close to the reaction you would have gotten years ago."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.PANAMA CITY BEACH, FLORIDA // With as many as 40 million single Americans using online dating services or web-networking sites such as My Space to look for love, it would seem that there has never been an easier time to find a soulmate online.But experts, law enforcement officials and private investigators warn that the world of internet romance is fraught with peril, ranging from liars to sexual predators and even murderers, who hide their motives behind seemingly innocuous virtual identities.

You may still get a raised eyebrow when telling people you are using the internet for your search for the perfect date, but no where close to the reaction you would have gotten years ago.

"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.

PANAMA CITY BEACH, FLORIDA // With as many as 40 million single Americans using online dating services or web-networking sites such as My Space to look for love, it would seem that there has never been an easier time to find a soulmate online.

But experts, law enforcement officials and private investigators warn that the world of internet romance is fraught with peril, ranging from liars to sexual predators and even murderers, who hide their motives behind seemingly innocuous virtual identities.

Although it is less common, men have also been victimised, usually by other men who are posing as women.