Christmas is the time of year when we like to spend our time with our children, friends and family. At least, that is how the story goes, and for the most part it is pretty true. We forget last year’s tribulations, the traffic jams and crowded stores. We fill our cars with ever-precious gasoline and our spirits with holiday cheer, and then we head off to the mall. We do a little shopping, trying to avoid the crazies who in increasing frequency are ready to do physical battle over the fad gift of the moment.
We stand in line for what seems like forever, juggling shopping bags and restive children, waiting our chance for a few minute conference with none other than the Big Guy from the North Pole, Santa Claus. There he sits on his gilded throne, amid all the blinking lights and Christmas décor. He is assisted by his helpers, who less often these days are midgets or dwarves, posing as elves. Midgets and dwarves allegedly scare the kiddies. The scene is fully nostalgic, resplendent with your own childhood memories. Your children are so anxious to sit and tell Santa what they want for Christmas, they can barely stand it. And here, amid the fake snow and the holiday festivities, it never occurs to you that Santa Claus may be a pervert.
That’s right. Despite all good intentions, your favorite mall may have mistakenly hired a child molester, whose recent residential address may have been the state penitentiary and not the North Pole. And you think you should be concerned about your child’s fear of midgets and dwarves. The truth is, that very lap where you place your child to declare his holiday wishes may actually belong to a pedophile.
To support this claim, CBS News recently had one of its staff impersonate a convicted felon and child molester. The staff member applied in five Los Angeles malls, under the name of the actual felon. The felon was a man who was registered along with 63,000 sickos on what is commonly known as “Meagan’s List. ” He was hardly a well-kept secret. And yet all five shopping malls hired the man to be their Santa Claus. Later, when confronted with the issue, one man claimed to have run a free pre-employment background check that is generally good for nothing. The others mumbled lame excuses that, when translated logically, meant they probably had not run any kind of pre-employment background check.
In other malls throughout the country, those responsible do conduct pre-employment background checks, along with drug testing. The good news is, employers like Santa Plus, of Fallon, Missouri, which screens the 500 Santas it places in 250 malls, in 46 states, do conduct background checks. However, by some accounts, 70 out of every 1000 applicants for the Santa or Santa’s helper jobs have a felony record of some sort. That is approximately seven percent of those screened. They may also be applying to the malls and services that don’t do any background checking. They may be like the staff member of CBS, who, while posing as a child molester, got hired anyway. At five different malls. In the case of CBS, their guy was an imposter, helping to work a feature story. In the other cases, they are the real thing.
I know this is terrible. But if it ended there, we could almost be grateful. . Perhaps the larger question is, who are what are you having over for the holidays? Are you not doing the same thing as the shopping malls when you are thinking of dating someone without first checking him out? I know, your new Mr. Possible seems perfectly lovely on the Internet, and he is charming on the telephone. It is the holiday season. You feel lonely. It would be nice to share the holidays with someone who shows the potential for romance. But a confidence man, a criminal, or a pedophile, has had lots of practice at disarming his pray. Winning you over is what his life is all about. Getting to your wallet; getting to your children. They are good at it.
This is not to suggest you investigate old Uncle Fred, although it’s not always a bad idea. It is to suggest, however, that if you are a single woman, especially a single parent, and you are using the singles and online dating sites, you had best run an online dating background check on your potential paramours. Not only does an online singles background check help protect you from theft of goods, confidence scams, identity theft and your own risk of physical harm, but most importantly, it helps protect your children from the kind of strangers they should never meet.
Remember, Check Him Out Before You Date Him.
Gordon Basichis is the author of the best selling Beautiful Bad Girl, the Vicki Morgan Story, a non-fiction novel that helped define exotic sexuality in the late twentieth century. He is also the author of The Constant Travellers, a sci-fi fantasy Western. The first chapter of Basichis’ new book Spook, a Roman A'Clef detailing Chinese Espionage in the United States, is featured in a forthcoming anthology, Sleeping with Snakes, Notes from the Los Angeles Underbelly.
A professional marketing executive, Basichis is also co-founder of Corra, which as the Corra Group specializes in pre-employment and online dating background checks, as well as corporate research and investigation.