KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPER -- July 20 -- Patrick Gilin was so popular that he persuaded more than 70 women he met through dating services to send him money "well into the six figures," authorities said. Giblin, a 41-year-old Atlantic City gambler, was charged with 21 counts of extortion and wire fraud. Giblin met the women by registering with telephone and online dating services, such as Quest Personals, Lavalife, Intimate Connections and Private Lines. He would get to know the women through telephone conversations, then tell them he planned to move or travel to their area and needed help with moving expenses.
Mark Brooks: Such offenses are extremely rare, but significant. It's best to communicate via an online dating site for a while to warm up, then date a few times. I'm a big fan of the initial 'coffee date.' Don't give out your work or home address until you are very comfortable with someone. Let common sense prevail. I think background checks are a good thing for the industry, but they're not 100% foolproof.