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March/April 2006 Issue

Beware of the Con Man
By Ron Csillag

Recent media reports on Canadian Dennis Zimmerman, who has allegedly defrauded a string of older Christian women he’d met on the Internet, have shone a light on the do’s and don’t’s of online dating. “These women just closed their eyes,” sighs Sam Moorcroft, founder of ChristianCafe.com, one of the sites on which Zimmerman met his prey. “They violated every safety rule in the book.”

ChristianCafe.com posts safety tips like these:

  • Take your time: There is no need to rush into a relationship with the first profile you meet. Never give out your email address, phone number, chat messenger information, full name, work information or any other contact information to a complete stranger. Get to know someone.
  • Use common sense: Beware of anyone who is evasive or provides too little (or only positive) information about themselves. It is your responsibility to take the time to ensure the person you are corresponding with is trustworthy.
  • Meet in a public place: If you decide to meet in person, choose a public place and stay there. Do not accept offers to have your date pick you up or drop you off. Choose public transportation, your own vehicle, a taxi, or better yet, have a friend arrange the transportation for you. If things do not feel right, leave right away. The sites cannot control the behaviour of their members once they’re away from their computers.
  • As for the victims of Zimmerman’s scam, which bilked tens of thousands of dollars from as many as 20 women across Canada, “they knew something was wrong,” says Moorcroft. “But they wanted to be with someone so badly, they were prepared to do it.”

    Dating sites do the best they can, he says. “But at the end of the day, if someone’s determined to suspend common sense, what can anybody do?”

    Other Articles
    Mar/Apr 2006 Issue

    Cover Story
    Meeting Christians Online: Does Internet Dating Really Work?

    Beware of the Con Man

    Featured Articles
    Church, Conscience, Corruption and the Conservatives

    Four Types of Canadian Voters

    A Provocative Public Voice

    How to Lose Weight and Gain a Congregation

    From the Editor
    Blind Dating Online

    The Gathering Place
    Have Evangelical Optics Changed?

    Guest Column
    Is Homelessness a Government Problem?

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