Beware Physical, Financial Dangers of I-Dating

ByABC News via GMA logo
June 13, 2006, 9:14 AM

June 13, 2006— -- For many of the millions of Americans who have tried online dating, it is an exciting new way to look for the partner of their dreams. But there are potential physical and financial dangers lurking, too.

Cat Hermansen said her experience with online dating took a terrifying turn when she invited a man she met online to pick her up at home for their first date.

"I told him to have a seat on the couch and I sat down beside him," Hermansen said.

"And he pushed me back ... and started pawing at me and everything, and what he didn't know is that I could reach down and I pulled my gun out and I put it in his face right between his eyes."

Hermansen said she feels she would have been raped if she didn't have her gun.

"He jumped up and ran out the door -- didn't even say bye."

The latest research finds more than 1,000 dating sites on the Web, and nearly 9 million Americans say they subscribed to dating Web sites during the last year, according to analysts at Jupiter Research.

A few, such as, do background checks on subscribers, but most do not. is lobbying state legislatures for laws requiring background checks or at least clear warnings that users are on their own. But some executives of other dating sites say meeting people the old fashioned way isn't any less risky.

"Dating that begins online is no more dangerous than dating that begins offline," said Kristin Kelly of

And, for many customers, using a dating Web site pays off.

"My experience was excellent," said Sara Labowitz, who found her husband, David, through an online dating service. "I met the man of my dreams."

But experts warn online daters to look out for their financial as well as physical safety when using the sites.

After signing up for's dating service, Julia Abrantes received an e-mail from a potential suitor telling her, "I can promise you my everlasting devotion, my loyalty and my respect for a lifetime."