John McCarty and Beth Mallory, both of Antioch, started the website to protect those in the online dating environment and promote awareness of the risks involved. “I’ve heard a lot of horror stories of people being ripped off by con artists, people being physically assaulted by someone they met online, meeting someone who was married or had a criminal record,” said retired police officer and co-founder McCarty.
Romance Reality Check is backed by Blackhawk Private Investigations, which turns over background checks within two days of the service purchase. Though some of the information is obtainable online, RRC puts everything – from bankruptcy filings to professional licenses to criminal record information – into one easy-to-read report.
When you’re able to find data online, it’s often inaccurate or out of date,” McCarty said. “Just because the information is out there doesn’t mean people know how to interpret it or verify it. We use the most up-to-date databases available.”
McCarty is an experienced background investigator and a POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) certified background investigator. His access to databases allows him to obtain the information quickly, and his 11-plus years of experience in law enforcement and 13 years as a licensed private investigator help him break down that information just as fast.
“He’s a perfectionist, and the reports are as detailed as possible,” Mallory said of McCarty. “He has instincts about the information gathered.”
As a sporadic online dating user, Mallory is taking advantage of the multi-million dollar online dating service market and putting her knowledge of computers and website management to use; more simply, to help people.
Online dating services transformed the online dating culture when the first site launched in 1994. Today, hundreds of online dating sites are available and some are specific to religion, race and even body type. According to Jupiter Research, the average online dating user spends more than $200 annually on these services, and consumer spending on such services are estimated to reach almost $1 billion by the end of this year.
RRC aims to keep the online dating environment safe and respectable. According to a Better Business Bureau report, complaints of online dating services increased by 73 percent in 2007.
State governments are even taking a stand. New Jersey and New York have passed the Internet Dating Safety Act, which requires online dating sites to publish potential risks, encourage users to follow safety tips, and disclose whether or not the service includes background checks.
Though RRC doesn’t guarantee it will find everything, the information it provides will lead to better decision making on the part of its clients. “It just makes sense to protect yourself,” Mallory said. “Remember: knowledge is power!”