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Internet Relationships

Dec 28, 2007
Perhaps today's most popular form of meeting new friends and starting intimate relationships is through the internet, rather it be a dating service or various chat rooms. With such a rising popularity in this trend, I feel compelled to tell a short story and provide a few suggestions that may help you protect yourself from some of the evil and insanity lurking in those dark cyber-corners.

First the story: I recently had a young man as a client who after having a three-year cyber relationship with a "female" we'll call Cindy, he was contacted by a third party "mutual friend" and told Cindy had taken her life; the client was devastated. My investigation ultimately revealed Cindy and the mutual friend were one in the same: a young male adult with some mental health issues (this is true, not said to be cruel). The point is "Cindy" wanted to end the friendship with my client but was unsure how to do so with absolute and immediate results, hence the suicide story.

My client in this case was emotionally traumatized and even embarrassed by the chain of events and my discovery, but was otherwise unharmed. Others have not been as fortunate; we've all seen the stories or heard about internet relationships ending tragically, sometimes in murder.

Perhaps today's most popular form of meeting new friends and starting intimate relationships is through the internet, rather it be a dating service or various chat rooms. With such a rising popularity in this trend, I feel compelled to tell a short story and provide a few suggestions that may help you protect yourself from some of the evil and insanity lurking in those dark cyber-corners.

First the story: I recently had a young man as a client who after having a three-year cyber relationship with a "female" we'll call Cindy, he was contacted by a third party "mutual friend" and told Cindy had taken her life; the client was devastated. My investigation ultimately revealed Cindy and the mutual friend were one in the same: a young male adult with some mental health issues (this is true, not said to be cruel). The point is "Cindy" wanted to end the friendship with my client but was unsure how to do so with absolute and immediate results, hence the suicide story. The young, disturbed male meant no harm, but plenty of harm was done.

My client, a somewhat vulnerable young man perhaps awkward in his young social life, had really become emotionally involved with "Cindy." When he was told of "her" death, he was absolutely traumatized. His parents were concerned with his state of wellbeing but they also were wise enough to see there may have been more to this story; that is where I came in.

The young man in this story was distraught, embarrassed, and even angry, but he was otherwise unharmed. Others have not been as fortunate; we've all seen the stories or heard about relationships ending tragically, sometimes in murder. The internet, with all of its good, has set a stage for predators and otherwise unstable people and many of them find comfort in the anonymity of cyber-world.

If you use the internet for dating or establishing friendships, please use all precautions before exposing yourself to a stranger. People are not always what they represent, and their past is easily erased in cyber forums. Obtain all of the information you can about any such person and have the information verified, a task not difficult for any private investigator. Considering the potential hazards, it's not a bad investment.

A private investigator can conduct a thorough background investigation, verify whether or not your new friend is who he/she claims to be, and check for criminal history including sex offender registry. A good investigator will also search civil records for divorces or other actions which may reveal some interesting, unrevealed facts about your friend.

At the very least, use common sense and always tell your best friend, brother, sister or someone about the person you've met. If they tell you things don't seem right, listen to them; they are not emotionally involved. Most importantly, never meet with someone without others knowing the details of your rendezvous. Choose a safe place and have an exit strategy that will work even with an overbearing, hostile individual.
About the Author
Danny R. Smith, a former homicide detective from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, is a private investigator in Idaho. His company, DRS Investigations, is located near Boise and available statewide. See his web site at: http://www.drsinvestigations.com
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