PHOENIX — Arizonans who may be blinded a bit in their search for love are in line to get some protections from the state, if not for heartbreak, at least from being fleeced for their money.
Without dissent, the state Senate on Wednesday approved legislation designed to allow dating platforms to inform members when one of the people with whom they have been chatting is removed from the site because of a suspected scam. They currently are precluded from doing that.
House Bill 2396 already has been unanimously approved by the House. That sends the measure to Gov. Doug Ducey.
Ryan O’Daniel, who represents Match.com, told lawmakers that sites like those operated by his client generally have good protections designed to preclude conversations that will lead to a member being asked to send money to someone else.
But that’s not foolproof.
“What we’ll see frequently is scammers sign up or fraudsters sign up for an account,” he said.
“They’ll send out a bunch of messages to a bunch of different members,” O’Daniel continued. “As soon as they get somebody that’s having that communication with them, they will quickly move them off of our platform.”
What that does, he said, is sends the conversation to Snapchat or texts or some other platform that is beyond the monitoring of the dating service.
The service already can ban someone the legislation defines as a person who “poses a significant risk of attempting to obtain monies from other members through fraudulent means.” That, however, provides no help to someone who already has struck up a conversation and taken it offline.
What HB 2396 will do is require the dating service to reach out within 24 hours to anyone who has been in contact with that person, informing them that person is subject to a “fraud ban.” That information would include not only the person’s user name but also any other identifying information to enable the potential victim to be able to identify who might still be trying to scam them.
And it would provide the dating service with immunity from being sued for any good faith notification.
Rep. Regina Cobb, R-Kingman, said this is a real problem. She said Arizonans lost about $8 million in 2018 to these kind of online dating scams.
The legislation is being put into the state’s Consumer Fraud statutes, a move that Cobb said gives the attorney general the power to enforce the laws requiring notification.