After you have made a connection with a potential suitor, some of the real work begins. After all, this is where con artists like Pierce put their schemes into action.
Gina had found Pierce online in 2015. She was recently divorced, looking to make a fresh start, and Pierce seemed to say all the right things.
“He was someone I was attracted to,” she recalled. “He had a real long profile, and you’re like, yeah, yeah, sure, sure, you know, ‘walks on the beach’ kind of thing. But I did agree to meet him.”
Pierce had claimed to be an investment professional, and within days offered to help her maximize her $94,000 divorce settlement. Gina says she balked at first, but Pierce skillfully shamed her into turning over the money.
Pierce’s own defense attorney, Chris Doran, said that was what his client did best.
“Daylon could sell someone a nickel for a dollar,” he said.
In the world of online dating, con artists have the added benefit of their potential victims being eager — and in many cases desperate — to make a connection. A crook will exploit that every time.
“So if you like football, they like football. You like Coldplay, they like Coldplay. Whatever you like. You feel so excited that somebody gets you,” Spira said. “That’s their goal. They want to hook you in to grab your heart and potentially grab your wallet.”
To protect yourself, take your time before meeting that special someone in person for the first time, or even communicating by e-mail or any means other than the dating site where you met.
“Until you feel really comfortable, use the dating sites because they’re a good place to really keep the conversations and a record of the conversations going,” Spira said.
As you start to feel more comfortable, you might talk to the person on the phone or in a video conference. When you finally meet in person, do so in a public place. And continue keeping your guard up.
“Never talk about money. Never talk about your inheritance or a windfall,” Spira said. “Don’t let them know your exact address of where you live or where you work.”
And whatever you do, keep your wits about you.
“I also recommend not drinking on a date,” Spira said. “Drink dates are so popular, but go ahead and order a mocktail instead of a cocktail to make sure that your judgment isn’t impaired.”