Some people, unable to establish a relationship in real life, resort to finding companionship over the Internet and will sometimes do anything to keep that connection intact. And some people will always be ready to take advantage of that, as shown by this case of a fraudulent online dating site.
Seven people from Fukuoka Prefecture have been arrested on January 15 and charged with fraud. They are suspected to have operated an online dating service that used fake profiles and made off with US$ 22 million. The dating site, named DEAiBBS, went online in 2005 and advertised that it had around 120,000 users. Investigations led by the police revealed that 80 percent of that number may not be real people. Of the seven suspects, four men were employed part-time to create fake profiles and establish relationships with members in order to convince them to pay for an upgraded subscription or renew their membership in order to gain access to additional features.
In its seven years of operation, the site was able to rake in 2 billion yen (US$22.7 million). More than 45 claims have been filed against the suspects before the arrests, amounting to 85 million yen (US$965,000) in damages. Victims of the fraudulent website included a 30 year old woman from Aichi Prefecture who paid 20 million yen (US$22,700) for the services. Also a victim was a 70 year old man from Kanagawa Prefecture who coughed up 10 million yen (US$11,300) to have an online relationship with what he thought was a real woman.[ via Rocket News ]