WASHINGTON COUNTY, NY & ORLANDO, FL â After our CBS 6 investigation, an online dating advisor is offering help to prevent people from falling victim to dating scams.
CBS6 first profiled Deborah Guitarâs situation earlier this month.
âHe destroyed me, and I didnât have faith in people,â Guitar told CBS 6.
Guitar, a widow who lives in Washington County, thought she landed a catch when she met âDarnell Michaelâ on the dating website Plenty of Fish.
âYou want to meet someone, just to have companionship,â Guitar said.
The only problem was the pictures used in the profile are not of Darnell Michael. The photos actually show Flamur Gashi, a former Albanian Ambassador. The diplomat is an unwilling participant in what Deb soon realized was a nightmare: an illicit scam.
Guitar unfortunately realized it too late. She had already given âDarnellâ more than $70,000.
Eric Resnick runs the site ProfileHelper.com.
âWhen they have one (picture) that works, they copy and paste it a thousand times,â Resnick said.
Resnick wants to prevent the things that have happened to Deborah Guitar and countless others, like Diane Amanda Standish of Orlando, Florida, another victim CBS 6 highlighted.
âI went through my bank accounts and it was $270,000 – He could be anybody, anywhere. I just donât know,â Standish said.
âThereâs no way to stop someone from stealing an image and using it,â said Resnick.
Heâs offering advice to those looking for love online. He says if you aren’t sure if the other person’s photo is real, run the image through Google Image Search or TinEye.
You can also copy and paste a couple of sentences from the other person’s profile into Google and see if it pops up on other dating sites. And perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t matter how deeply you’ve fallen for someone. There is never a reason to send someone you’ve met online money.
âIf theyâre local, they have to meet you, and if they have to meet you, it really helps for them to be real,â Resnick said.
Resnick also says making sure someone is real is so key, because online dating is only getting more popular. He says 35% of long-term relationships in America last year started online.
The FBI has an âInternet Crime Complaint Center, ” and both match.com and Plenty of Fish feature sections of their sites, specifically warning users.
Plenty of Fish cautions âNever respond to any request to send money, especially overseas or by wire transfer… Wiring money is like sending cash: the sender has no protections against loss and itâs nearly impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money.â