As we enter new millennium Internet is evolving into a major meeting ground, one that affords us access to people all over world and draws us daily into online relationships with individuals we have not yet met. An increasing number of people are using Internet to meet and get acquainted with potential mates.
While many of those online interactions do bloom into friendships and relationships, a small number do not have happy endings Beth Wadsworth learned this lesson hard way. When Wadsworth began exchanging emails with Thomas Abney, she thought she, too, might have found love on Internet. It turns out that what she had really found was a dangerous man who would try to kill her.
Wadsworth met Abney in 1999 while surfing Web. The two hit it off and began corresponding. "We just started talking and trading information about our lives," says Wadsworth. " We seemed to have same values and morals." After only one month of emailing each other, Wadsworth invited her potential new love to visit her. Abney flew to San Diego, where Wadsworth lives, and two spent some time getting to know each other off-line. Abney wasn't who he appeared to be, however.
When visit was coming to an end, he turned violent without warning. "He jumped on me and started strangling me," Wadsworth remembers. "I was totally in shock."
When it was over, Abney had attacked Wadsworth with a claw-hammer and slit her throat with a steak knife. He then took Wadsworth's wallet and car keys, leaving her for dead.
"I don't remember being hit, but I had three gashes in my skull," Wadsworth says. "He probably thought I was dead when he left."
Beth wasn't dead, however. She managed to call ‘911’ for help, and Abney was arrested at airport. He was eventually convicted of premeditated attempted murder, robbery, and auto theft and was sentenced to life plus 14 years in prison.
"I felt pretty stupid that I'd let this stranger into my house, and this is what happened," Wadsworth says. "I will never meet anybody on Internet again."
While dangers faced by Wadsworth and other singles aren't unique to online dating, anonymous nature of Internet does make it easier for people to be deceptive about who they are.
With concerns—and dangers—of meeting others in this manner rising exponentially, it is no surprise that one website has already clicked with millions of netizens: WhoisHe.Com and WhoisShe.Com, a professional service designed to verify if persons are who they purport to be.
Are they married? How old are they? Have they ever used an alias? Are they really a doctor? Do they have any bankruptcies, liens or judgments against them? Do they have a criminal record? Have they committed domestic violence? Are they a registered sexual offender? A pedophile?
“Know what you are getting into before you invest your heart, money, or your life,” says Linda Alexander, a Southern California attorney and website founder. WhoisHe.Com, which works under motto, "When in Doubt, Check Them Out," offering background checks, personal profiles, criminal and civil record checks for potential mates, prospective employees, in-home service providers, future step-parents, business partners and nannies. The cost of service provided by WhoisHe.Com and WhoisShe.Com range from $39 to $75.