San Diegans spending hundreds to date safer online using PB company's tool

InstantCheckmate.com helps daters screen mates

SAN DIEGO - As the search for love increasingly moves online, some San Diegans are feeling the burn.

Nicole Scudder, 25, has profiles on multiple dating websites, and she said she's had her fair share of disasters already.

"It's been really tough meeting someone, putting yourself out there and being disappointed," said Scudder. "I've been lied to a lot. I dated someone and for the first three months I didn't know he was only 18 years old."

Needless to say, that relationship didn't last. But now, Scudder said she worries that the men she meets online could be different than they seem in their profiles.

"I worry about them being married, or having another family you didn't know about, or having a criminal record," said Scudder.

It's not as uncommon as one might think. A recent study from Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows 80 percent of online daters lie in their dating profiles.

It's this reality that one local company was born on. The Control Group, a tech company based in Pacific Beach, developed InstantCheckmate.com, an online resource designed to help users date more safely.

Instant Checkmate compiles reports from millions of public records into a searchable database and helps protects daters from would-be predators before they meet them in person. For a fee, the service helps users discover a huge breadth of information about a potential date, including assets, marriage and divorce records, address history, criminal history, professional licenses, drug-related arrests or even a history of paying child support.

"A lot of people out there use online dating sites in a predatory way," said Kris Kibak, co-founder of Instant Checkmate.

For example, Alan Wurtzel, a Los Angeles man, was sentenced to a year for sexually assaulting a woman he met on Match.com.

"With a tool like Instant Checkmate, those women could have discovered he has an arrest record and potentially could have avoided meeting him," said Kibak.

The appeal of meeting strangers to date safely has many across the country paying for this service. A month-to-month membership with Instant Checkmate costs more than $270 a year. Kibak and fellow co-founder Joey Rocco said despite the fee, the tool has grown to be one of the largest public record search engines in the world.

"It's been hugely successful and we are seeing the demand," said Rocco. "Instantcheckmate.com has been ranked as high as 310 on the Alexa list of most visited sites. That puts us on par with Walmart.com, AT&T and Dictionary.com."

Scudder said she uses the website to screen all her potential dates, and she believes that the price is well worth it.

"Did I ever think I'd need the Internet to find love? Not really, but I'm hoping for that fairy tale in the end," said Scudder. "I think I'm being smart. There may be a little bit of paranoia, but it's better to be safe than sorry."

 

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