Interview with Yvonne Rice, online dating & anti-scam expert
Q: You wrote two books about dating in the Internet. Who should read them and how they will benefit?
A:I wrote my first book “Love Sex Lies and the Internet mouse trap” because I was looking to see what had changed in society over the last 15 years with reference to why there are so many singles now, and how our lives are affected by the type of partner we were seeking and where on earth did we find them.
This lead me to researching all aspects of being single and internet dating was where I discovered “the single scene” is now. This was not the case when I was the Director of a Dating Agency back in 199…(smiling here). The internet for dating was not something we even knew about, let alone used to find the one we were seeking. Wish it was - would have made my job a lot easier - I am now a huge supporter of online dating. But, this book is not a book for those who can be easily offended. It is a no-holds-barred look at the online worlds of dating. It is done with respect, but it does cover all aspects of communicating on sites.
I was so fascinated by what had changed since I was in the Matchmaking Industry, that I decided to thoroughly research this subject. As I started in one area - it lead me to another. I realized pretty quickly that in order to give a balanced picture of the singles lifestyle and the dating industry I needed to research all aspects of it - not just mainstream dating but cultural, gay, adult, transgender and of course the romance, prostitution and child sex offender scams.
It took just over 3 and a half years of full-time research to interview, cross reference and document. It is written in part from my own experiences and those of the thousands of people I interviewed. Hopefully, with sincerity, balance and humour. I wrote this book for everyone who is looking to communicate on any online sites. It was an amazing journey and I am very grateful for the trust and input from everyone who allowed me to interview them. I am very involved in what’s happening in the industry and still set time aside daily to research.
My second book “Finding “The One” - a powerful step-by-step guide to making online dating work for you” was written as a guide for anyone dating online. I discovered in my research that there was a huge problem with the way people communicate online. This leads to disgruntled members and dating sites being given a bad name because of unsatisfied customers. This I found to be a little unfair. As a former matchmaker I know just how difficult it is to match a clients expectations.
What most people don’t realise is that just like the matchmaking industry - dating sites are only a facilitator to connect people and the millions of dollars they invest in their sites are for their members to have an enjoyable, but safe experience online. Once you have met someone on a site the normal rules of engaging apply - sites can’t run the communication or relationship for you - that is up to you.
But, unfortunately, the majority of people are unfamiliar with how to do this. So this book is a short cut to guiding you in that process of learning how to communicate online effectively and safely - a protocol, so to speak, and was written for those who really are looking to “Find The One”.
Q: Your activities include working with various Law Enforcement and Government Agencies helping to combat online scam. Why dating scam is such an issue and how it can be stopped?
A: Dating Scams destroy lives - not just financially, but emotionally, for the people who are scammed. When people are hurt it affects everyone around them - “the ripple effect” as I call it, and I find this incredibly sad. The reason Scammers hit these sites is because they see people on dating and social networking sites as easy targets and I know all of us feel this is intolerable - I also feel it is stoppable. Even more so now, with recent events.
Everyone looses when this happens. The Industry gets an unwarranted bad reputation, businesses loose hundreds of millions of dollars each year - unnecessarily. Entire countries loose global revenue as businesses and corporations around the world distrust the integrity of that country. They refuse to deal with them due to the reputation of being a “scammers haven”. As you can see - the ramifications of these scammers are on a global scale, it affects everyone.
There are other countries, but Nigeria, Russia and The Netherlands are the main countries who suffer needlessly by being labelled with this. I know through discussions with them, that the Governments of these countries are fighting just as hard to stop this problem. It does not serve them to have this reputation.
A couple of months ago I had the honour of being invited to speak about Romance Scams at an International conference for the global delegates representing Law Enforcement, Commerce, Governments and Government Agencies. The 2 day conference was specifically on Internet Scams. In that speech, I said that “We all need to come together as a collective to stop this”. I am determined to help make this happen - I believe that we can.
Since then, in conjunction with like minded world leaders in their respective fields, I have been in discussions globally with the decision makers in the areas of Commerce, Governments, Law Enforcement, Internet Security and some of the major Dating Companies and this is just the beginning. I am very pleased to say, that what is now happening, is that these leaders in every single one of those areas, are willing to come to the table to create that possibility - and I am really excited about this. We now have the possibility of no longer attacking this problem from a fragment position, but a collective one - Globally.
I would also like to take this opportunity if I may, to invite any other Countries, Governments, Law Enforcement, Security Agencies, Commerce, Dating and Social Networking Companies who are affected by scammers to contact me if they are seriously interested in being a part of this ground breaking global initiative.
Separately it has been impossible -collectively it is stoppable.
Q: How online dating has changed over the past several years and how financial crisis is going to the affect the online dating industry in the future?
A: I first started looking at online dating about 6 or 7 years ago - it was quite a different beast back then. Never in your wildest dreams would you have admitted that you were on a dating site. No, no… That was only for the “weird and desperate”. Not so now, I am pleased to say. Online dating is not only acceptable, but friends openly talk about the last date they had online. In my opinion it is the prime resource for finding a partner and the bonus is - you can also make some really good friends. But this speaks for itself really, as online dating is now being used by celebrities, CEO’s of large corporations, leading professionals in fields such as medicine, business, the arts and many more - somehow I don’t think they would classify themselves as being “weird and desperate”. So, it’s all good news.
I think we have a lot to thank social media for. I know, some would disagree with me, as it has taken businesses away from the industry, but if you look at it from this point of view - it has allowed online dating to come out of the closet, so to speak, and become an integral part of finding a partner. It has lifted the Industry’s image - which I think is fantastic.
In my resent address to the conference I mentioned earlier, I stated that I felt that we would see a dramatic change and a huge influx globally, of people heading to the dating sites over the next 6 months. The reason for this is because when the economy is up - singles are generally too busy to seriously worry about finding a partner - however, when things are tough, people don’t want to be alone - they seek solace and companionship - which is only natural. Human beings need each other - we are supportive by nature and that’s the reason why we live in communities, and not as individuals in isolation.
Interestingly enough, a few weeks ago an article, written by Media Life Magazine ,stated the same thing. I was highlighting in my address to the conference that one of my main concerns is that this would lead to an increase in scams. One of the other things I said is that I believed that paid dating sites would suffer from the economic downturn, but free sites would expand dramatically, as those seeking companionship fore-go the additional services provided by the paid sites, to save money by joining the free ones. In short, I think the dating industry will see an unprecedented boom within the next 12 months - which is great.
I just want members, no matter which sites they choose to join, to be safe. My passion, drive and focus is to make sure they are.
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