The tell-tale signs of dating scammers – in practise

The second blog I read that made me angry, (if you missed the first, click [here]) even though it was designed for amusement, and described a scenario that those new to dating sites may get embroiled in before they even know it, was from a MrLE to another female dating site user and blogger. Admittedly, she was bored so played along, but the gist of the story, in very broken English from said MrLE, was this…

He opened the conversation (all through private e-mail on the dating site) with “Hello Pretty Lady” – a dead giveaway to someone who is not who they purport to be; read our  Not the language of love article as to why – and it all sort of went downhill from thereon in. MrLE followed that up by describing our blogger, or rather a ‘ladyfriend’ who he supposedly had sitting next to him remarked that, our blogger was “smoking sexy” – I mean, c’mon.

The ‘ladyfriend’, with no voice of her own, strangely enough, wanted to know if our female blogger correspondent was into ladies. Having told MrLE a straight “No!”, it did no good whatsoever; he persisted by questioning the truth of her response, going on to explain that he had placed a bet with his ladyfriend, which he had now lost because he’d wagered that our blogger was not averse to a bit of same-sex female bonding.

This is another skill of the practised scammer, playing on sympathy, trying to get the unsuspecting single to show an Achilles Heel, which they will exploit if you show too much ankle.  Some, like this guy, are pretty obvious, but others can be a lot more subtle.

Despite our blogger’s shorter and shorter answers, MrLE kept on badgering her, even after she had stopped responding completely, using well practised lines to make his scenario seem plausible. In truth, 99.9% was probably fallacy, just a hopeful approach to get another dating site single engaged before entrusting himself to her further, which could have opened the door to heartstrings, purse strings and G strings, over a prolonged period.

MrLE even had the gall to follow up the day after to ask our blogger what sort of day she’d had; although, in all likelihood, he had very little memory of the exact conversation as he would have been on to pastures new the moment she stopped responding.

Needless to say, our seasoned dater was having none of it and gave MrLE short shrift, but I don’t think she realised that this was a genuine attempt by a scammer to engage – I bet he couldn’t believe his luck, at first. You can see from this illustration how someone new to dating would have felt pressured or obliged into keeping the conversation going, maybe even costing the newbie their membership as they abandoned the site in the urgent desire to rid themselves of this persistent nuisance, the likes of whom give the genuine world of online dating such bad press.

I obviously commented on the blog to let her know how lucky she had been and urged her to contact site admin immediately. She was savvy enough to sidestep this attack, but newbies perhaps wouldn’t have been so aware, or at the very least, got totally the wrong impression of online dating.

If you’ve not read the series The Money Pit of Online Fraud, please do so, especially if you’re new to this wonderful world of online dating, which is fun and can open up exhilarating friendships and, as the success stories will tell you, so much more.  Don’t let idiots like MrLE or Santa put you off, just learn the signs and, in the interest of others who may be newer to dating than you are, get site admin to at least check out their credentials and furthermore warn them that their conduct is unacceptable, if you feel you’ve been subjected to unreasonable behaviour.

FBI issue US Valentine warning for date protection act

The extent of seriousness to which scamming on dating sites is now being taken has become evident from the US as it has emerged that the Federal Bureau of Investigations issued a warning on Valentine’s Day for public protection on exactly this matter.

The US criminal department’s cause for concern comes off the back of recent findings concerning the amount of fraudulent dating site profiles currently populating the world’s cyberspace chat rooms, forums and dating sites – the figures are just, well, scary. Yet still dating sites the world over, who have full exposure to the extent that scammers, perverts and sexual deviants are posing as decent love seekers, are just not willing to provide 100% full identity and background checks for its existing membership and new sign-ups in case it prevents genuine people looking for love online from registering to use their facilities.

Dateprotection.com is a website that fronts an organisation calling for greater online dating security on a global scale, headed up by its founder, Kevin Connell. His comments are constantly drowned out by the industry’s big game players and he, like the FBI, is calling for change on a grand scale that only the public can effect, as government authorities are either unable or unwilling to intervene.

The concept that Kevin is trying to get dating sites to accept is that all members have a right to be assured that the person they’re chatting with is genuine or at least provide an onsite means of allowing one of its members to verify any potential partner’s true identity themselves.

Currently, there are very few states in the US – the two ‘New’s – York and Jersey – that have any laws governing background checks for dating sites, although Connecticut and Illinois have also passed bills regulating them. The former only extend to paid facilities and they are not the most rigorous, asking only of the dating site owner to inform their members if they carry out criminal checks (not that they have to); in New York, there is the additional safeguard that online dating facilities must issue guidelines, many of which fall under the heading: ‘common sense’, advising its members of what to look out for and things not to do when actually meeting up offline someone they have met on site.

Singles should not feel pressurised into meeting anyone on their dating site who will not take appropriate lengths to independently verify their identification. As market leaders, Match.com and eHarmony have categorically stated that all of their membership undergo sex crime conviction checks. However, that test does not actually prove that the individual they are running the check on is the person who has actually signed up to the dating site.

Kevin Connell has revealed several secrets about the scale and industry insider knowledge of the scale of scam profiles; we will present them in our next article, along with what UK dating site members can do if they fancy someone on their site, but are unsure of their integrity.

U-turn by DoJ in courting room query

Last month, here on dating.org.uk, we reported that dating site members who were, how shall we say, imaginative with the precise details of their online dating profile may be violating terms and conditions regarding internet misrepresentation guidelines.

There is a limited amount of tolerance permitted by dating site communities regarding acceptable levels of ‘artistic license’ when one crafts one’s dating site profile; indeed, results of many studies  have concluded that it is almost expected, to a certain degree, that new members will bend their profiles to specifically attract a particular member of the opposite (or same, depending upon the type of adult site you use) sex who has particularly taken their eye.

At one point, there were huge rumours that anyone found to be breaching the rules set out by membership sites – dating, social media, gambling, gaming – any online community that requires you to complete information about yourself and by clicking you confirm that you adhere to either the terms set out or that the information that you have entered is correct – would be liable to prosecution and brought to court.

However, it seems that common sense has prevailed and the Department of Justice, although conceding that purposefully entering untruths about yourself is directly contravening the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, recognise the absolute volume of people who do fib a little on their dating site profile would never be able to be processed. Another misuse of computing, if the CFFA was to be followed to the letter of the law, is accessing a member community site other than from the one you own or signed up from; in other words, if you were to access your matchmaking site and Google+ from your work station PC, you are breaking the law. Again, although these instances are literally illegal, it is not what the legislation was created for.

Rather the law will remain in place to serve its original purpose. There are many documented cases where individuals have created false profiles to commit a crime, sometimes which has led to tragic consequences.

So, although it has ‘disavowed’ the law in a sense that dating site members will not be prosecuted for shaving off a few years or a few pounds, for genuine malicious cases or in the case of dating sites who are targeted by scammers who create multiple false accounts purely with the intent of grooming and later stealing from other community members who fall for their lies, it will remain a tool for the Department of Justice to bring these criminals to trial.