When Victorian woman Kitty Johnson met a man named John through online dating site Oasis she just thought she’d met a great guy.
“We hit it off pretty well and we were seeing each other for a little while,” she told A Current Affair.
Eventually they became comfortable enough to exchange intimate photos with each other. A few weeks later, Ms Johnson said she was contacted by a woman claiming to be John’s fiance, and it all went downhill from there.
“She basically tried to ruin my life,” she said.
"I got a message from his fiancé," she told A Current Affair. "She'd obviously maybe gone through his phone and found stuff and I said look I want to help you but you really need to talk to him about it."
The fiancé found out where Ms Johnson worked and threatened to visit her there, sending her abusive Facebook messages using a fake profile. She tried to reason with John's fiance, advising her to talk to John. After all, he was the one at fault, not Ms Johnson who had no idea John was engaged.
But the fiance was determined to try and ruin Ms Johnson's life and after harassing her and threatening her she took the step of sending the intimate photos Ms Johnson had shared with John to Ms Johnson's boss. The fiance also lodged a complaint, claiming Ms Johnson had tried to illicit sex with a customer while at work. The fiance claimed that customer was her 'husband'.
How to protect yourself while using online dating sites:
- Don't use your surname in your profile;
- Delay sharing details such as place of work;
- Don't include your address or phone number in your profile;
- Ensure your profile photo doesn't identify your location;
- Don't use a work email address in your profile;
- Spend time getting to know them online;
- Trust your instincts and cut off all contact with those you feel aren't sincere.
"I got a call from the store manager that was about a complaint that had been made by a customer alleging that I had tried to illicit an affair within the store with her husband," Ms Johnson said.
The complaint was made via email and included some of the intimate photos Ms Johnson had shared with John. Ms Johnson was left in tears. Thankfully her employer supported her throughout the ordeal.
Still reeling from the experience, Ms Johnson told A Current Affair that it was "one of the worst things that another person could do to another person, let alone a woman to another woman."
Ms Johnson had used the online dating site before, meeting her previous partner there in a relationship that lasted over three years and plans to continue using the site,. But this experience is certainly an example of how online dating can go terribly wrong, particularly when personal details are shared online.
Breaking the cycle of bad relationships. Post continues...
Cyber-safety expert and former police officer Susie McClean told A Current Affair there are new laws designed to protect women likes Kitty.
"These are criminal offences in every state and territory in Australia," she said.
Of her decision to exchange intimate photos with John, Ms Johnson said, "It was meant to be just a little bit of fun between two people and it ended up just being something that ultimately could have ruined my professional career."
It serves as a warning to young women when it comes to how much information they exchange with someone they meet online. Although when someone you meet online has made the decision to misrepresent themselves, there's only so much you can do.
To report harassment or abuse online contact the Police Assistance Line on 131 444.