"You're in love with a man of mystery. Read on . . .Investigative service will do background checks"

 

DATESMART.COM

National Post

 

Tuesday, June 15, 1999

You're in love with a man of mystery. Read on . . .

Investigative service will do background checks on fiances Jeannie Marshall National Post.

He tells you he has a yacht on the Riviera, a big family inheritance on its way and an important but secretive job that frequently takes him out of the country. If you are not too lovestruck, you might want to check out his story.

Trying www.datesmart.com, whose motto is "If you date, investigate," could do the trick. Datesmart is run from Santa Barbara, Calif., by Carmen Lynn, herself formerly duped by a man, and a host of private investigators including some former FBI agents. For a fee of $75 to $125 (US) they will run a basic search that includes criminal records, motor-vehicle checks, bankruptcies, tax liens or small-claims judgments. From there, they will go into in-depth searches, including, if you like, staking out someone's house and following them.

"The Internet and dating services are way more popular than they ever were before, as are personal ads," says Lynn. "If you're out there searching for somebody -- I don't want to say desperate -- but you're looking for a relationship to fulfill your needs, it puts you at a disadvantage and makes you vulnerable." She advises anyone who has doubts of any kind to have the person investigated.

The Web site has a list of what are called red flags: "Are they secretive or elusive about their past? Have they told you they're in the CIA? Have they asked you for money or use of credit cards?" Much of this comes from Lynn's personal experience. In 1992, she met a man at a barbecue at a friend's house. Five months later they were married, but it didn't take long for her to realize her new husband was lying to her. "He lied about his education, his credentials, his employment, his belongings. I ended up basically losing $25,000 -- which he didn't steal. I gave it to him because we were married," she says. Her story is typical of those she now hears every day at Datesmart. Lynn's husband told her that his former wife had ruined his credit rating, so she suggested they just use hers. He shopped on her credit card and then started asking her to borrow money from her family.

Ever since launching the Web site in 1996, she has been getting thousands of requests for investigations every day. There are slightly more women initiating investigations, but the surprising thing is that a large percentage of her business comes from third parties. "In one case I had a father who was concerned about his daughter, who was about to get married," says Lynn. The man had told the family that his first wife had died. The invitations had already gone out, and all the preparations for the wedding were in order when her investigation turned up the fact that not only was the man's wife alive, but he wasn't even divorced and his wife lived in the same neighbourhood as his bride-to-be. "You can't pinpoint any one motivation such as financial gain or anything," says Lynn. She explains that an astonishing number of her investigations turn up another spouse. "For some reason, who knows why, bigamy is a big problem here in the States."

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