India attempts to authenticate matrimonial profiles

The Government of India is asking all matrimonial websites to verify the authenticity of the profiles they put up. The Minister for Women and Child Development Ms. Maneka Gandhi has suggested using some specific social authentication identity card details to authenticate profiles and by early next year all matrimonial sites will have to comply. She has also asked them to crack down on fake profiles.

Ministry sources told that Ms. Gandhi pointed out that a mobile number was the only requirement currently needed to put up one’s profile. “This is clearly not enough. There are hundreds of people who register online on matrimony sites every month and there are increasing instances of women being cheated while looking for grooms. There are men who have multiple accounts in different websites.

Making an identity card compulsory will ensure the pictures of the grooms are on the profiles. This will limit the number of stalkers, serial daters and married men posing as single,” a senior official at the ministry said.

According to an ET report last year, there were 35-40 million online registered profiles on matrimonial sites. And 2.2 million online profiles were being uploaded every month. Of these, around 10% managed to find spouses online. Security officials ET spoke to said the ministry’s fears are not misplaced.

According to Hyderabad police, of the total cases registered this year, 20 per cent belong to cyber crimes committed against women, that involved duping money after promising marriage online, morphing of pictures, blackmailing, stealing of ATM cards details, etc. Such cases can be much higher than the reported ones since family pressure on women, forcing them not to come out in public, in fear of jeopardising their future marriage proposals and public image allow the perpetrators to prowl with impunity, admitted the cops.

Shahina Khan, a doctor and resident of Banjara Hills whose elder sisters were registered with matrimonial sites, says many fraudsters prowl such sites with fake profiles and cheat women, luring them with marriage proposals. “While some meet the families, show off their lavish lifestyles to convince the victims before fleecing them, for others it’s a way of acquiring cheap thrills by sexually exploiting women after building romantic relationships.”

A Delhi police official said there have been many complaints of men faking their identity on matrimonial websites. “Recently, we arrested a man who had his profile on three leading marriage websites.

He had sent request to over 1,000 women and was in touch with at least 30, extorting money from a few with promises of marriage and getting pictures from others. During our check we discovered in some of these websites there are profiles of actors too which are definitely fake but have not been taken down,” he added. As of now, an ID proof is not mandatory in any such site. Bharatmatrimony. com recently started a system wherein an interested user can have an “online trust badge” and a “professional trust badge” added to his profile by attaching an ID proof like ration card, Aadhaar or any authentic ID, latest educational certificates and salary certificates.

“We notice that these profiles get the maximum response but making any of these documents compulsory — even an ID like Aadhaar will be difficult. Most users are concerned about privacy and some don’t even have ID proofs,” said Janakiraman Murugavel, Founder & CEO, Bharatmatrimony.com. He added the website had recently started providing free on-ground verification of profiles in New Delhi and Chennai.

Most other matrimonial website owners are sceptical of using the identity card but say security measures will definitely be beefed up, as advised by the ministry. “If the government makes the identity card compulsory for people to enroll in matrimonial websites, we will have to comply. The government has to make sure people have the cards before implementing such a rule,” said Anupam Mittal, founder and CEO of People Group which owns businesses such as Shaadi.com.

Some matrimonial websites insist on ID proofs and videos of the person but that happens only when the user reports his/her profile as fake. “We have a software that is coded to identify stalker profiles that are present in not only our site but other dating and matrimony websites.

The cops however feel that the victims are just as much to be blamed. “Though these sites do not verify the information given by those registered, parents have to do a through background search and not get carried away by attractive profile photos which are often turn out to be downloaded from internet,” says an ACP of Hyderabad Police.

The cops say anyone who chats online, is registered on matrimonial websites or gets into relationships over the social media can fall into traps of conmen. Such accused are booked under IPC and IT Act. As a precautionary measure police also gets in touch with all contacts on accused’s phone and coax people to register complaints if they have been cheated by them. In addition to this, police also suggests some safety measures:

  •  Verify educational qualification and job description by checking certificates and calling up the employer
  •  Accord same amount of caution even if you are going for second marriage. Instead of taking decision on your own, its better to involve family members
  •  Visit the person’s house and meet his/her parents/ relatives not once but a number of times. Invite them to your house as well
  •  Hire police approved private detectives to get all information about the person

Source Credits: TOI, ET, New Indian Express

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