OPERATOR OF ONLINE DATING SITE ARRESTED FOR MAIL FRAUD -
Canadian Arrested as he Tried to Enter U.S. to Check His Mail
BARRIE TURNER, 65, of Delta, British Columbia, Canada, was arrested at the U.S./Canada border crossing at Point Roberts, Washington, Friday March 26, 2010, as he attempted to enter the United States. TURNER is charged in a criminal complaint with Mail Fraud in connection with the operation of 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 alleges that TURNER was accepting payment from customers, but not providing any legitimate matchmaking services. TURNER will make his initial appearance on the complaint this afternoon at 2:30 in the Magistrate Judge Courtroom, 12th floor of the U.S. Courthouse at 700 Stewart Street in Seattle, Washington.
According to the criminal complaint, 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.
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.
“There are more than 1,000 known victims in this case,” said E.C. Woodson, Acting Inspector in-Charge for the Inspection Service’s Seattle Division. “This case is an example of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s commitment to protect the public and ensure the mail is not used by criminals for fraudulent activities.”
Mail Fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being 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.