Online Matrimony Dangers - Look before you leap !
Marriage is a contract. It is a lifelong commitment which is shared between two individuals and their families. The modern age of technology brings forth a number of options for young people to get together, test their compatibility, and eventually take their vows; online matrimony is one such option. Websites have sprung up on the internet, each catering to both Indian and Western mindsets, different religions and communities. There is even a matrimony site dedicated to those who have experienced divorce and would like to settle down again. Overall, online matrimony sites are social networking platforms for brides and grooms to-be. There are dangers however, of the online match-making world, and it is important to address them effectively in order to avoid future embarrassment and problems.
One of the most common scams on online matrimonial sites is known as “the romance scam”. Romance scams use the rather cruel practice of connecting with a potential “victim” via a fake online profile, and then luring him or her into an apparently loving relationship. Once the scam artist feels that the victim is “in love” with them, they will come up with excuses to ask for money to be sent to them; most common excuses involve a sick relative who has no money or someone who has been involved in an accident and does not have insurance. The unsuspecting lover will immediately transfer the money to their supposed other half, only to learn later of the scam. A number of women have been victim to this scam in India, ironically at the hands of men who are based abroad, and initially claim to be very rich!
Another scam is more harmful than the romance scam. This is the trafficking scam, which involves men who prey specifically on young, vulnerable young girls who wish to marry foreigners and settle abroad. The perpetrators of this scam portray themselves as being professionally successful and well-groomed, and use their online matrimonial profiles to show off their apparent wealth. A red flag to look out for is a profile with too much in it; there will be an overwhelming array of cars, houses, fancy food and possessions, all of which are arranged to attract an unsuspecting girl into thinking of a wealth-enriched future with them. The real future however, involves the perpetrator coming to meet the girl or getting her to travel to his home country or state to meet him, which will isolate her from her family and support systems. He will then most likely drug her or threaten her into following his commands, post-which she will be probably be made to work as a sex worker or a bar dancer. This scam is especially dangerous for girls who are not street smart enough to identify potential scams.
It is foolish to think of the perpetrators of these scams as men only; in a number of cases the roles are reversed and women take on the role of the scam artists, using sob stories to get money, or soliciting sexual favors online, only to blackmail their hapless victims later. While these scams also occur in a general context, the online matrimonial business has taken a hit after the exposure of these scams, which have not only robbed innocent people of their money, but have also broken the hearts, hope and faith of many vulnerable people whose only wish is to find that perfect person to spend the rest of their lives with.
Some things to consider while searching for a partner online involve running thorough background checks on the person, both online and offline. Make sure that all their information matches, and that there is no discrepancy between their online matrimonial profile and their general social networking profile. Ensure that photographs are genuine and not morphed or of a celebrity, as is common practice on some sites. It is always good to look at their circle of associates and follow the popular theory of “you are known by the company that you keep”. In other words, a truly decent person will also be linked with decent people, and any suspicious associations should be questioned. Connecting with the person’s family and friends, especially those who live in the same city, will also help establish the background of the person in case he/she is based in another state or country. Being in a foreign country and earning a lot of money does not automatically make that person with a fancy profile an “ideal” candidate for marriage; exercising caution will help weed out the potential abusers, drug addicts and unsavory personalities.
“Better safe than sorry”, should be the ideal motto of anyone who is looking to settle down, and while online matrimony certainly has advantages, it is also extremely dangerous to jump into it blindfolded without understanding the potential dangers. In conclusion therefore, do your research, be mindful of red flags such as requests for money, gifts and signing over of property/documents, and you should be able to find a partner who is honest, trustworthy and eligible to join you in opening a new chapter of your life; that of marriage and lifelong commitment.