Stalking victim warns others about online dating dangers - KCTV5

Stalking victim warns others about online dating dangers

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Millions turn to online dating sites and mobile apps in hopes of finding that special someone. But, do you really know who is on the other side of a profile? (KCTV) Millions turn to online dating sites and mobile apps in hopes of finding that special someone. But, do you really know who is on the other side of a profile? (KCTV)
FAIRWAY, KS (KCTV) -

Looking for love can be time consuming, frustrating and difficult. It can also be dangerous.

Millions turn to online dating sites and mobile apps in hopes of finding that special someone. But, do you really know who is on the other side of a profile?

A woman, who KCTV5 News is calling "Lee" to protect her identity, says her experience with online dating had her calling police and filing a protection order.

Lee says she met Blair Keith Charles Jr. through the messaging service, Kik.

"This was the rare instance someone reached out to me and found me," Lee explains. 

After a couple weeks of chatting, Lee decided to meet Charles in a public place. She says she did what so many others do when online dating - she Googled him.

Lee says nothing came up because he gave her his middle name and not his first name. Weeks later she would find out the man she was dating was a convicted sex offender.

"I remember sitting in my living room reading all the court papers completely sick. Just bawling my eyes out and just beside myself," said Lee.

Charles had sex crime convictions involving teenage girls who were similar in age with her daughter. Lee broke it off and says that’s when things took a turn.

She says she received non-stop phone calls and text messages. Lee told KCTV5 the creepy phone calls let her know he was watching.

"He was able to tell me where we ate dinner and I said, 'How did you even know that?' And he said, 'I know more than you think.' That’s when I called the police," Lee said.

Lee was granted a protection order and Charles was charged with stalking. The case is still pending.

KCTV5 dug into Charles' background and discovered Lee isn’t the only one who filed a protection order against him. One other woman in Cass County filed an order of protection in 2013.

KCTV5 reached out to Charles about the stalking charge but our calls were not returned.

Dating expert Rick Soetebier says Lee’s experience is an extreme isolated case but he does offer advice for other women looking for a mate online.

"Your gut instinct is 98 percent right," said Soetebier. "You’re looking for a lifetime mate, why wouldn’t you put as much effort vetting a potential mate as you would vetting a potential employee?"

Soetebier says Lee did nothing wrong but there are steps you can take. Here’s what he suggests:

  • Do your research. Search for the person on social media sites and see if their story checks out.
  • Be upfront and let your date know you plan to verify their story. This could scare away those who are hiding something.
  • Write a clear paragraph about what you’re looking for in a potential match.
  • Google proof your profile. Use a picture that’s not on your Facebook or LinkedIN. Someone could reverse search the image and track you down before you’re even willing to meet.
  • Use a separate e-mail address to communicate with your matches. That way if you need to shut it down, it’s not a huge hassle.
  • Keep your profile generic. You can say what you do but don’t say where you work.
  • Don’t use any part of your name in your username.
  • Don’t introduce children to a potential mate until at least six months into the relationship.
  • Most importantly, if your gut says something isn’t right, it probably isn’t.

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