Dating safely: “We went out as friends and found love”

Is a concern about online fraud holding you back from looking for love? You can date safely online. Here’s how!

When it comes to dating the second (or third) time around it can be easy to be concerned about safety. After all, we have all heard those horror stories from a ‘friend of a friend’.

Yet as this couple prove, if you take things slow and do things the right way, you can safely date online. You may make a good friend or if you are lucky you just might even meet your perfect match.

Here is an example of a happy couple who took it slow, started out as friends and allowed friendship to slowly turn into love.

Samantha, 60, and her partner Peter, 62, live happily together in Newport in NSW. The couple met in 2011 after both of them had ended long term relationships. They initially just went out as friends, which made them both feel safe enough to keep getting to know each other.

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Peter and Samantha met on eHarmony and four years on are happily in love

Things got a little more serious after a few months and the couple are still happy together four years on. 

Samantha, 60, shares their love story
“Peter contacted me and I thought he had a nice profile. He sounded interesting and the picture of him walking with a lion clinched it so I returned his message.

We talked through eHarmony first and then direct email. He seemed nice, but then I went away to Byron Bay and when I returned he had met someone else so I wished him well and said that "If for some mad reason he wanted to contact me he had my email" and left it at that.

Late September I received an email saying "Some mad reason has come up! Would you like to accompany me to a ball at parliament house in Sydney as my friend can’t come from Brisbane?" It was a random invitation and one that sounded too good to pass up so I emailed him back and we made plans. I went purely as a friend and we literally had a ball so to speak. He has called me ‘Cinderella’ ever since that day for obvious reasons. . .

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A real-life Cinderella story: Peter and Samantha's first date was at a ball

He asked me if I would like to have dinner with him the following week and he seemed to find a reason each week to see me, which I didn’t mind as we had so much fun when we were together. He was so easy to be with. We had so much in common and what we didn’t was really exciting anyway.

One funny little thing that makes me smile is when I told him I used to have pet rats. Most people think I’m quite mad when I tell them this, but he just smiled and said “So did I” and sent me the photos to prove it!

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The pair often feel like they're 16 again when spending time together

To cut a long story short – I would probably not have got to know Peter if it wasn’t for a random email. I had decided even though I liked the sound and look of him at the very beginning that I didn’t think I wanted to take on someone who had recently lost his wife of 35 years, because it would be too daunting a task.

I had a long term relationship of 18 years that had finished sadly nearly 18 months before and was really only looking for some company. The fact that we just went out as friends only for company on both sides actually made me feel safe enough to keep seeing him and get to really know him, and boy am I glad that happened!

Things got a little more serious after three months and we are so happy. We look after each other and I know it sounds silly but we both have said “I feel like I’m 16 again!” which is some feat considering we are in our 60’s!

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Samantha and Peter having fun at a Fijian wedding

We are talking about going overseas together and making plans but still seeing where it will take us and having a wonderful journey.

I had been on my own for 18 months and had decided that perhaps it was time to find some company. A good friend of mine met her husband on eHarmony and her daughter in law had also met her fiancé this way so it came highly recommended. Peter had lost his wife to cancer and was also looking for someone to care about again.

I have told many people about eHarmony. I tell them that it is very professional. I have seen others and they are not policed as well nor do they match people like (eHarmony) does. I would say that they should take a chance and give it a go – what have they got to lose? My friend said this to me and she was so right – look what happened!”

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The lovely couple are making plans to travel together

How to stay safe socialising online
Fraud Week is an annual government initiative run by Scam Watch. This year the week will run in mid-May with the theme of staying safe from romance scams.

This is a great opportunity for all of us to be reminded of how to stay safe if you are dating or socialising online, and some of the things to watch out for.
 
While thankfully most people you meet online are genuine, it’s important to know what signs to look out for and how to protect yourself should you come across anything suspicious.

Sadly, Australians lose millions of dollars to online fraud each year and as we become more active on social media, fraudsters are increasingly targeting social media accounts to access personal information and pictures to create a fake identity or to target users with a scam.


Watch this video on how to stay safe when online dating

‘Phishing’ traditionally involved fraudsters emailing a legitimate-sounding request to convince targets to send their money or personal information, however identity scams are now much more sophisticated.

Not only are scammers getting better at creating convincing online identities, but websites and social media are breeding grounds for fraudsters due to the sheer number of potential targets.

Be wary of how much personal information you share on social media sites and en-sure you manage your privacy settings.

Common attempts by fraudsters on Facebook observed by eHarmony’s social media and security teams include overtly attractive men and women engaging their potential victims with claims they are looking for love, profiles from a country other than Australia, and limited friends, photos, and profile information.

Preventing online scams is easy when you remember these three simple rules:

  1. Don’t send money to someone you’ve met online
  2. Don’t click on external links
  3. Don’t give away your personal information too quickly to someone you’ve met online

Are you considering trying online dating? Join the conversation below.