Nevada woman Mary Kay Beckman is suing Match.com for 10 million dollars for negligence after a man she met on the site and dated for 10 days tried to kill her after she broke up with him. She claims the site didn't do enough to warn her about the dangers of meeting "an individual whose intentions are not to find a mate, but to find victims to kill or rape."
After reading about Beckman's terrifying ordeal, our first thoughts were "we're surprised this doesn't happen more often." 40 million people in the U.S. have tried online dating, according to Statistic Brain. As it turns out, several women have been victims of violence at the hands of men they met through online dating sites.
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In April 2011, Carol Markin filed suit against Match.com after a man she met on the site sexually assaulted her. She filed a civil suit against Match that would force them "to install a sex offender screening program that scans a members' background when they sign up for the site." She did not sue for monetary damages.
"While incidents like this one between individuals who meet on Match.com are extremely rare, it doesn't make them any less horrifying," the company said in response to the suit.
Eventually, as a result of Markin's suit, Match.com, eHarmony, and Spark Networks all agreed that they would screen their clients for any history of sexual assault, violence, or identity theft.
But some websites don't require a screening process. Last November, an Illinois woman was sexually assaulted by a man she met on a dating website. If the website had run a background check, they would have discovered that he had "a history of domestic violence and multiple felony convictions."
Illinois passed the Internet Dating Safety Act that "requires online dating websites to disclose whether they conduct background checks on members. Companies that violate the law face possible fines of up to $50,000."
But as Beckman's current case proves, the crime prevention that the screening process offers is limited, as some predators don't have a record. The dating websites argue that a screening process gives clients "a false sense of security," according to the Chicago Tribune.
Currently, Match.com has a list of safety tips, but the sad truth of the matter is that predators are everywhere, and online dating only makes it easier for them to find their victims. If you do decide to meet someone in person, make sure the first date is in public, and always take your own transportation. Be cautious and aware of the risks.