OPERATOR OF ONLINE DATING SITE PLEADS GUILTY TO MAIL FRAUD
Canadian Operated Sham Dating Service
BARRIE TURNER, 65, of Delta, British Columbia, Canada, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to Mail Fraud. TURNER was arrested in March 2010, as he sought to enter the United States at Point Roberts, Washington. TURNER operated more than 200 web sites offering “Executive Dating” services. The web sites linked to Executive Dating LLC, offer such services as Executive Catholic Dating, Executive Gay Dating, Executive Seattle Dating etc. An investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service found that TURNER was accepting payment from customers, but not providing any legitimate matchmaking services. TURNER will be sentenced on September 24, 2010, by U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez.
According to records in the case, more than 100 people have filed consumer complaints about the executive dating web sites. The customers complained that after paying as much as $997 for a six month membership, they were matched with what they suspected were fictitious people. In some instances, the same picture of a “match” was used with multiple clients, while the personal information about the “match” was altered to suit the geographic location of the client. Clients who were interested in meeting their “match” received identical emails, telling them that the “match” had decided to date someone they had already met.
In addition to creating fake identities to provide as possible matches, TURNER also lifted identities from other dating sites such as Match.com. This resulted in defrauded customers contacting people who had never heard of Executive Dating and in some instances were married and no longer interested in match-making services.
The fees for joining the dating service were sent to mailbox stores around the country and then forwarded to a mail box in Point Roberts, Washington. Point Roberts is a small peninsula just south of the Canadian Border. Investigators observed as TURNER crossed into the U.S. at Point Roberts to collect the mail at the post office there. On Friday afternoon, March 26, 2010, TURNER was arrested as he attempted to cross into the U.S.
Investigators estimate that since 2005, customers have mailed or wired payments totaling more than $1.2 million to Executive Dating LLC.
Mail Fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Tessa Gorman and Thomas Woods.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.