Thief Stole More Than Hearts on JDate

By Sara Liss

Published May 14, 2004, issue of May 14, 2004.
  • Print
  • Share Share

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — An Orlando man who used the Jewish Internet dating service JDate to lure women into dating him was arrested in Broward County last week with bail set at $21,000.

Police charged Ivan Urquiza, 34, with grand theft, attempting to use another person’s identity without consent, and intimidating or threatening a witness or informant. According to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Urquiza swindled at least 15 women, stealing credit card information, personal checks, a car, and identity information.

Though Urquiza is not Jewish, he told police he used the famous online dating service to attract Jewish women because he thought they would have more money than non-Jewish women.

JDate has been criticized in some traditionalist circles for not attempting to restrict its site to Jews.

Gail Laguna, a JDate spokesperson, said the online dating service is unable to monitor the activities of its users once they are offline.

“We don’t do background checks,” Laguna told the Forward during a phone interview from the company’s headquarters in Los Angeles. “Anybody can join the site; we don’t screen people. If there is nudity in the photos, or foul language and harassing e-mails, then we remove them from the site.”

Laguna explained that dating has its perils, no matter what the venue. “We don’t chaperone dates. We don’t monitor what happens. People can lie about themselves if you meet them at a bar,” Laguna said. “Whether you meet online or offline, bringing someone into your house is a risk.”

The JDate site does offer “dating safety” and “help and advice” options to help users safeguarde against “Internet Casanovas” — the term authorities are using to describe Urquiza and his ilk. Laguna said JDate is limited in its ability to help its estimated 700,000 users. In bold print, the site cautions: “Safety-wise, meeting on the Net is inherently similar to meeting offline.”

So far, the police have been able to confirm that Urquiza met up with one of his victims on JDate — Shari Silkoff, an interior designer from Weston, Fla. Silkoff led the police to Urquiza when she filed a report after noticing that someone had been using her credit cards. She had met Urquiza through JDate, and they went on a few dates before she invited him home. Soon after that, she noticed $2,500 worth of unauthorized charges on her MasterCard. According to detectives, Urquiza stole Silkoff’s credit cards, credit card statements and information regarding her identity. Then, over the phone, Urquiza changed her personal information and created a new PIN number for her account. Working with police, Silkoff lured Urquiza on a date May 3, and police promptly arrested him. The car he was driving was stolen, and inside it police found other women’s checks and credit cards.

The Miami Herald reported that Urquiza, a published poet, has a criminal record dating back to 1989, when he was arrested in a hit-and-run case in Miami. He also was arrested twice in 2003 on charges of disorderly intoxication and giving a false ID to an officer, as well as on charges of theft and resisting an officer. According to authorities, Urquiza has used several aliases while perpetrating his scams, including Vize Dumais, Vize Mariales, Zoran Rojas, Loren Rojas and Vincente Urquiza.

The investigation is ongoing, and authorities expect more women to come forward.

Find us on Facebook!
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.