By Gloria James-Civetta

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Danger Lurks in Online Dating

4 min read
The risks of online dating

The internet has made our lives more convenient in countless ways, one of them being meeting and communicating with new people online.

Anyone who has tried dating online would know how tricky it is to be sure of the identity of the person on the other side of the screen. Aside from ‘do they like me?’, somewhere in the back of your mind you cannot help but wonder whether the person you are chatting with is indeed the same person their profile depicts them as.

Yet, in this day and age, people on these websites and applications are so willing to “put themselves out there” and be vulnerable, even though the other person may be a complete stranger, and there is absolutely no way of being sure who they truly are.

The reality is that it is not just your heart that is at risk of being broken. In January and February 2020 alone, Singapore has seen 132 cases of internet love scams and 125 cases of credit-for-sex scams. The combined total monetary loss for the victims of these cases is over S$5 million, and these are just the reported cases. Simply put, you are at risk of breaking the bank if you’re not careful of impersonators preying on not just your feelings, but also your wallet.

Common offences

If you are currently involved in a criminal offence arising from online dating, you may have been unjustifiably painted as a criminal offender. Often times, this involves serious allegations such as outrage of modesty, rape or cheating.

Alleged outrage of modesty or rape charges

In certain cases that are surprisingly less common than you would think, perhaps you have been called up by the police and informed that you are being put under investigation after spending the night with a Tinder date the previous week. Surely this is shocking, especially since as far as you remember, you did nothing wrong and everything was perfectly consensual.
You may find yourself charged with a count of outrage of modesty or, in a more serious case, rape. Whether or not consent was given, as well as whether the alleged perpetrator or the alleged victim were both intoxicated, are some of the complex legal issues that may arise.

Alleged cheating charged

Other cases typically involve situations where money or valuable items have changed hands. In this situation, an example is where the other person has willingly bought you items or gave you money but has later regretted giving you the items or money. In the following days receive a call informing you that you are being investigated for a charge of cheating.
These are serious offences which carry imprisonment terms, caning and/or fine. Being involved in such criminal investigations or charged with such offences can be stressful and traumatic. If you find yourself in such a situation, you will need a criminal lawyer to guide you through the legal processes and demonstrate your innocence.

Victim of blackmail

You may also find yourself as the victim of blackmail. Blackmail occurs when a person threatens to reveal certain information or embarrassing images of another person unless certain demands are met – such as the delivery of money, valuable items, information or even sexual favours.

In some instances, a person may even threaten to reveal personal information about the victim (for example, to their family members that they had cheated with someone they met on the internet or even their shrouded sexual orientation), unless they heed their demands.

Unfortunately, not all victims of such extortion are willing to come forward and report their cases, for fear or because they are embarrassed. These extortions can cause serious psychological trauma and reputational harm. If you find yourself in such a predicament, you need to speak to a criminal lawyer now.

Do not take matters into your own hands – the adrenaline you get from anger and fear might make you think that you should confront the perpetrator face on. Remember that you do not want to get into any arguments or physical altercations with the perpetrator such that you might be charged for an offence – such as voluntarily causing hurt, criminal trespass, intimidation, defamation or even murder.

At this point, the best way forward is to contact a criminal lawyer who can guide you in dealing with these difficult legal situations. Our experienced criminal lawyers at Gloria James-Civetta & Co aim to protect your interests and show you the appropriate process of seeking justice. In situations where money or properties have changed hands, our lawyers can also assist you in exploring solutions to retrieve the losses.

What can we do for you?

Should you have any questions or would like more information, please contact our criminal representation lawyers at 6337 0469 or email us at consult@gjclaw.com.sg

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