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Online dating sites reach customer safety agreement with state

March 20, 2012 |  1:38 pm

California Attorney General Kamala Harris
Three online dating sites have signed an agreement with the California attorney general's office to help protect members from sexual predators, identity theft and financial scams.

The companies -- eHarmony, Match.com and Spark Networks -- will step up online safety measures such as cross-checking members with sex offender registries, according to Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris.

"I commend these companies for committing to these important consumer protections," Harris said in a statement. "Consumers should be able to use websites without the fear of being scammed or targeted."

Other protections include educating subscribers about safe dating practices and potential scams and searching for fake profiles.

The attorney general will work with providers to investigate and prosecute crimes involving the online dating sites.

A Los Angeles entertainment executive who says she was sexually assaulted by a man she met on Match.com filed a lawsuit last year, asking that the popular dating site start screening its members for sexual predators.

Also last year, Orange County resident Joseph Raymond Garcia, 51, was convicted of raping three women he met through a website called MillionaireMatch.com. He created a personal profile claiming that he made more than $200,000 a year and described himself as "sophisticated, charming" and "strikingly handsome," according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

About 40 million people in the U.S. used online dating services last year.

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--Anna Gorman

Photo: State Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris in February. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times.

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