New US state law seeks to curb dating site dangers after murder of woman

Jesse Leavenworth
5 Min Read

Horror stories linked to online dating sites in Connecticut and around the nation include murders, sexual assaults, and swindles that drained victims’ life savings.

A new state law that went into effect on Jan 1 is meant to boost safety for those seeking love and companionship, and hold dating companies accountable for certain aspects of their business. The law requires companies that do business in Connecticut to provide reporting procedures for unwanted behaviours; safety advice for online dating, including alerts to various romantic scams; and Internet links and phone numbers to report sexual harassment and domestic violence. The law allows the state Department of Consumer Protection to levy fines of up to US$25,000 (RM116,350) per violation.

The legislation follows the killing on Dec 8, 2018, of a Bethel woman, Emily Todd, who was found shot to death at the Bridgeport boat ramp. Todd, 25, met her killer, Brandon Roberts, two weeks before through an online dating app, but had decided to end the relationship, according to testimony at Roberts’ trial. Roberts, who was 27 at the time of the killing, later said, “I don’t know why I did it. I had a lot of hate in me, man,” police have said. Convicted of murder, he was sentenced last year to 80 years in prison.

In December, a fired Washington rookie cop accused of sexual assault in that state was returned to Connecticut to face charges in a years-old Waterbury sexual assault. Police say the Washington state victim connected with Niamkey Amichia, 33, on a dating app. Waterbury police say Amichia posed as a police officer when he raped a woman in the city in 2016.

Tinder, one of the busiest dating sites, responded to safety concerns last year by offering a background check tool on its site. Each user gets two free background checks, then the price for each check is US$2.50 (RM11).

Pre-date background checking has become a business of its own. Sites such as BeenVerified scan state and national databases for criminal histories and other information. BeenVerified charges US$17.48 (RM81) for one month’s membership. In Connecticut, online daters can use the state’s Judicial Branch website for free to check for criminal convictions and pending criminal cases.

Those background checks, however, likely will not reveal overseas crooks who have raked in millions through romance scams. Authorities say many of these swindles originate in Eastern Europe and Africa.

Last year, the FedEx centre in Windsor Locks intercepted US$60,000 (RM279.240) in cash that a romance scam victim sent to her “fiance,” a person she knew only through photos. The 72-year-old Tennessee woman who sent the money told police she had been communicating with “the diplomat of Yemen,” who was to forward the 600 US$100 (RM465) bills to her fiance, a man stationed in that country with the US Air Force. The woman said she had sent the man about US$75,000 (RM349,050) over two years, police said.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong’s office has fielded complaints about scammers targeting residents through dating sites, including a woman who said she lost US$100,000 (RM465,400) to a con artist she met on the dating app, Bumble. The woman said she communicated with the man for several months before he told her he was stranded in Turkey and owed money for damaged equipment. The woman sent him US$100,000 in wire transfers and Bitcoin before realising she had been duped, according to a news release.

Last year, according to the Federal Trade Commission, about 70,000 people complained of being victimised in romance scams. The total loss in 2022 was about US$1.3bil (RM6bil) and the median reported loss was US$4,400 (RM20,477), the agency reported. – Connecticut Post, Bridgeport/Tribune News Service

Jesse Leavenworth

2024-01-08 02:00:00 , "site:" – Vivrr Local

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