What’s wrong with seeking love on the Internet? Online dating has been around for awhile now and, not coincidentally, so have the horror stories about scammers exploiting seekers of love and companionship. Scammers have targeted love-seekers for as long as people have been seeking love……was the Bible’s serpent a scammer? Perhaps. The FBI warns about online dating scams…..but not about serpents. However, there may be another disloyalty lurking in the online daters’ grass — the dating sites themselves.
It turns out that they have been more unfaithful than those pesky online scammers. So if you use Zoosk, Match, eHarmony, Plentyoffish, Hinge, Tinder, Blendr, Okcupid, The League Grindr or others, you’ll still need to be alert to potential exploiters and scammers. But the introduction of AI and bots into dating sites has created a world were many, if not most, of the people with whom you interact are likely to not exist. Dating site business models have evolved into information mining companies. Under the cloak of “matching” people, these sites are actually getting information from you and about you — and then selling it. That’s how they make their money — at your expense.
The term you’ll need to learn about if you use any dating sites is catphisher. This is a person (or company) that manipulates you into send money or giving up personal information, usually by impersonating someone else. Catphishing is rampant on dating sites — and we’ve found that the catphishers are often fake personnas created by the dating sites themselves.
Recently, we took a close look at a number of “dating sites” that extract information from you using fake matches. Among these is dateyou.com, run by MP Mobile Performance Ltd based in Cyprus. This site is all engaging in information mining through the use of bots and fake identities. You don’t have to take our word for it, check out the customer reviews. Even the Better Business Bureau has warned about this kind of scam site. We signed up and engaged in conversation with 7 so-called women. None of them were real — they were all catphished bots. And those 7 conversations fully used up the $24.99 that bought us 1100 “coins”.
You are charged 50 coins EVERY TIME you make a comment, and hit the Enter Key! Every time you send a sentence, or even one word, to a Member, it’s 50 coins deducted! At $24.99 for 1150 coins you get about 23 sentences. That’s it. That’s why we used up our coins in 7 conversations that were no more than 4 sentences each. SO, the Professional Operators and/or Members will keep you chatting to drain your wallet! And you can expect lots of emails from catphishers chastising you for having not responded to their entreaties.
Below, we’ll explain how to spot the fakes and what to do if you’ve been ripped-off by one the the MP Mobile dating scam sites.
How to Spot a Catphisher
We’ve figured out some of the tell-tale signs of a catphisher on the dating scam sites. They include:
- Numbers following names of the handles assigned to the dater.
- Use of emoticons in the messages
- Unresponsiveness to questions posed.
- Unduly suggestive statements right off the bat, before you’ve exchanged much information
- Profiles accompanied by classy, professional looking pictures, often of people taking a selfie.
- You are contacted by a dater through chat but when you check your notifications, you’ll see that the person didn’t review your profile
- When you ask the alleged dater in which neighborhood they live in the city listed in their profile. They can rarely answer that question.
- If you ask a question about current events, they’ll change the topic or won’t respond.
If you discover any of these tell-tale signs, then immediately end the correpondence and move on. You’ve been catphished!
The Site Owners Admit its a Scam
Buried in the Terms and Conditions of this site is paragraph 11(e) which reads:
Basically, this site is admitting that the website is sprinkled with fake profiles, or that, Office Workers (professional operators) are pretending to be the women in the profiles, and you are chatting with MP employees.
The biggest giveaway was that every woman listed in the San Diego region (862 of them) all had numbers after their names. All 9 of the women we contacted were bots. We were unable to find any woman without a number following their name meaning, presumably, that no real women populate the DateYou database in San Diego!
Other Ways to Protect Yourself on Their Dating Sites
As we’ve stated above, we do not recommend you use ANY of the MP Mobile-owned dating sites. They are dishonestly promising matches, but really just using fake bots to extract your personal information AND exposing you to hordes of scammers. In regards to the scammers on these sites, here are some important tips:
Stay in Site
Online dating sites have the ability to monitor and boot members who exhibit problematic behavior or are perpetrating scams, so scammers often try to get their marks off of the website on which they met. The most common excuse as to why they shouldn’t continue to communicate via the website is”My membership on this site is almost up” or “How about if we text or communicate though our personal phone/email/text?” They do this so that they can’t be ferreted out by the website operators. Moving off-site before launching a scam also reduces the chance that you’ll report the crook to the relevant site. So, you’ve been warned.
If you do engage with someone you meet off of the site, they’ll likely give you a gmail account or Hangouts ID by which to contact them. If they do, first check out that email using SocialCatfish. This is a free reverse-directory search engine that will be very useful in identifying the scammer with whom you’ll be interacting.
Run, when money enters the scene
If any prospect offers to send you money and have you handle the banking in the U.S., or asks for money or involves you in any way with some financially-related scheme, run! Some prospects will string you along for weeks or months before asking you for money. Still run! Or if they concoct an emergency and ask you to wire money to them. Keep running! If you are asked to items, particularly electronics, and send them overseas, be very careful. Many companies won’t ship to scam-beleaguered countries, so scammers might use you as an unwitting fence by directing you to forward property they’ve bought with stolen cards.
Spelling and grammar are now, finally, important
You may have ignored spelling and grammar in school, but don’t ignore it if you are in the dating world. If your prospect has poor grammar and spelling, be careful. They may be using instant messaging or TTY services for the deaf to help mask their broken English. A line that sounds like it could be from someone in a far-off country but portraying themselves to be in your same city will usually have a local dialect misfire. If a profile indicates your match has a college degree, but he or she can’t string a sentence together, you have reason to be suspicious.
Love at first write
If your correspondent/date is claiming to have fallen in love with you in the first few hours/days, the alarm bells should be going off. Usually, they’ll claim a deep connection with you and parrot back to you all of the things that you mentioned in your profile or prior correspondence. If this person seems like the ideal mate you’ve described in your own dating desires, they are probably scammers. If you begin to receive some of the most beautiful poetry you’ve ever read, well, they probably ripped it off of the Internet.
Which are the best online dating services to use?
We don’t have a specific service to recommend to you. We do suggest that you use more than one and compare for yourself. If you want to compare there dating sites, check out the discussion at Lifehacker or Urbanette and other high end matchmaking services Good rules of thumb are to date closer to home, keep emails to no more than three or four before moving to the phone. But nothing substitutes for an in-person meeting. Avoid fantasy relationship that will rip your heart in two unless that’s really all you are looking for. But ultimately, safe online dating happens if you are smart and honest…..and it helps if you know what you are looking for. There are lots of good people out there to date online. As many have said, “if you don’t know where you are headed, any road will get you there.”