How to scam online daters

Never mind where, but I found some examples of how scammers use online dating sites to rip people off. I thought you might be interested… for purely academic reasons of course.

Method #1

Scam artist starts a relationship with someone. He dates her via the site for a couple months, even calls and chats with her. Finally, he tells her he’d like to meet her.

But naturally he doesn’t have the cash for the flight all the way from his home in Nigeria. So he sweet talks her into sending him $700-1,000 in cash for a plain ticket. Of course, he never buys the ticket.

She’s out her cash but perhaps learns a valuable lesson in the process. He moves on to the next victim.

Method #2

This one starts the same way, but the finish is a little more clever.

Scam artist starts a relationship with someone. He dates her via the site for a couple months, even calls and chats with her. Finally, he tells her he’s on a business trip in Nigeria, but he’s lost his computer.

So what’s he do? Ask her to buy him a computer?

No, of course not – that’s too obvious. Instead, he buys one himself. He uses a stolen credit card but doesn’t tell her that. He tells her he just can’t get it sent over seas, so he needs her to forward the computer to him.

No big deal, she thinks. So she forwards the computer to him.

Turns out she’s liable (or at least in a big mess) because she sent it, the credit card company is out the cost of the computer, and he’s in another country and super tough to track down. Time to sell off the computer, kick back, and enjoy life as a con man.

Or start all over again.

Why this gets interesting

Most dating sites, both to make money and to attract serious customers, charge for their services. In general, customers pay a subscription fee each month in order to use the site to make connections.

So consider how the scam artist fits in. He’s constantly using the site himself, so that right there is one extra customer. On top of that, though, he’s actively roping other victims into joining the site because he wants to act like he’s pursuing a relationship with them. And he’s one of the best salesmen for the site because, after all, he’s doing it professionally. He knows all the tricks.

So…

  • We have scam artist. He’s a customer and promoter for the site.
  • We have¬†innocent victim. She’s a customer, and she’s especially loyal because her “boyfriend” is on the site.

Why would the dating site want to kick the scammer off? Sure, in the long run, the site starts to get a bad reputation, which will eventually kill it. That’s why most of the big dating sites really do try to crack down on the scammers.

But what about in the short run? What about the businesses that are just starting up in that space? First, they might not even notice the problem or be able to track it. But second, they might not care to… because kicking out the scammers actually reduces revenues at first. And most new businesses can’t afford that.

See the problem?

Or, if you’re the scammer, see the opportunity?¬†That’s how they win: by hanging out in the newer, smaller sites… and living in Nigeria.

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