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Online Dating Scams

[UPDATED BELOW 3/12/18 about "verification" payment sites]
We’ve written many times about the “underage sext scam” perpetrated by a small group of criminals.  They use fake profiles of women listed as 18 or older who are then "revealed" to be 15 – 17 years of age.  The criminal tricks the men into believing they have sexted or received a sext from a minor, and then extort money from the victim.  The dating scams in this article are very different though.  But both target men who use online dating apps, websites and services. In the United States alone, there are hundreds of dating websites and apps, from Grindr, OKCupid and Tinder, to Match and eHarmony, to Established Men, Seeking Arrangments and even “What’s Your Price.”  [NOTE: This article contains adult content. We have made an effort to blur the faces of women whose profile pictures might have been stolen and misused.]

 

This story came to us from a gentleman who asked to remain anonymous so we’ll call him Abe.  We took steps to verify the credibility of our source.  Abe is a 67-year old, well-educated, professional who reports that he is trying to recover from divorce after 30 years and move on with his social life.  But like many leaving a long-time marriage, he’s unfamiliar with the dating routine today. Even figuring out how to meet women can be a challenge.  Abe turned to a variety of dating sites to, as he put it “jump start my post-divorce social life.”  He tells us that he’s met a few nice people on the Internet but… “it’s been invaded by bad, stupid people who are hurtful.”  Abe tells us that dating sites are littered with dozens and dozens of suspicious profiles, or profiles of women that are obviously fake, or even profiles posted by women selling sex.  Based on language clues, Abe believes that a significant number of these predators are Russian because in email and text conversation with him they use diction common to Russians speaking English.  Apparently, there are some common errors made by Russian English speakers.  Abe says that they typically omit the definite article of speech “the” and other small words not used in the Russian language.  A Russian speaker of English on these dating sites may say "I am wanting man for loving me" for example.  And yet, when Abe is in a text or email conversation with these women, they all profess to be American and have American-born names.  Of course, there are many Americans who are recent immigrants and for whom English is not their first language.  But often their heritage is reflected in their names.  According to Abe, this is not the case for these suspicious profiles and contacts he sees on dating sites.

 

Let’s first look at the profiles of two different women who contacted Abe on EstablishedGentlemen.com, Ava and Jody.  There are some curious similarities in their profiles, as well as a paragraph that is identical at the end of their profile. 

  • Each immediately asks to be contacted via email “@gee mail dot com.”
  • Both claim to be from Chicago, Illinois. But isn’t it an odd coincidence that both woman place two apostrophes between Chicago and IL?
  • Read through the profile text for each and you’ll notice very subtle grammar and punctuation errors.
  • Most importantly, each woman has written the exact same paragraph following “I’m looking for…” WORD FOR WORD!

 

Our readers know that we’re very skeptical about online content and these points lead us to believe that these two profiles were likely created by the same person, and that English is not her or his primary language.  Remember, all contact is initially through email or text.  Abe tells us that women with suspicious profiles who contact him will almost always have some excuse why she can’t meet, talk, skype or Facetime.

 

Abe told us that many women have also contacted him through Adult Friend Finder and Ashley Madison to express their interest.  However, when he looked at their profiles, he again became suspicious because of their photos or content.  He tells us that their photos always show very attractive women who are often “out of town temporarily.”  He’s received long letters from some saying that they are out of the country but want to get to know him so they can trust him when they get back.  In their communications they often sign off similarly with “I care.”  Abe also said that many of these women with very suspicious profiles will ask him to send an Amazon gift card prior to their meeting, or even send them money via PayPal.  Of course, this request is a major red flag!

Here’s an example of some profile information Abe found from a woman with an American-sounding name who claimed to be from Missouri originally:

 

Introduction I am a cheerful woman and I like fun. Passion is one of my main caracreristicas and everything I do put my heart ... I am a woman open-minded and I like to experience new things. I am a romantic and beautiful dream woman beside many a good man who could steal my heart things. I am a simple woman and I like to live life quietly 

My Ideal Person I am a woman that with all her heart wants to be loved and happy! You can get to know me and do it for a long time. I do not immediately reveal all the cards, maybe you will be interested to do it yourself? About myself I can say that I am a charismatic, sociable, sporty and reckless. At the moment completely independent. A woman of mood, I think you will understand me, and let me be sometimes alone.

"Let me be sometimes alone?"  This type of error is made by people who did not grow up speaking English as their first language.  It’s important to say once more... we don’t mean to disrespect or disparage the many Americans who immigrated from other countries to make a life here in the U.S. and for whom English is a second language.  However, Abe makes the point that these suspicious women try to give the impression they are American-born.  Abe believes that “citysuperwoman” above is really a Russian because of her language mistakes.  We’re not qualified to make that judgement.  But we feel qualified to point out that it seems exceptionally odd for “citysuperwoman” to describe herself as “a simple gal kind and honest” and then post a profile photo of her bent over showing her butt in a thong!  Is that what simple gals do?  Abe sent us a couple of other profile screenshots from Adult Friend Finder that contained very few words and just one single VERY REVEALING profile photo in each.  We would rather not post those photos on our site, thank you very much!

Abe also offered this email he received through Adult Friend Finder from an American "interior decorator" who was also delayed out of town on a job.  She contacted him… 

Good morning sweetie,
Hope you had a good night's rest? I'm so sorry about your experiences with the Russian women, Lol. I'm sorry I find it funny, I haven't been lucky enough to meet any, I have only been exposed to robots, loys of messages that do not reply when you talk to them. I enjoyed reading your mail and getting to know more about you. It's great that we have things in common. We will get along just fine. I will love to meet up when I am back home. Nice dinners and long walks were we can talk about everything we like and enjoy doing.

It's always tough working away from home. I have to wake up early every morning and work till late night so we can beat the schedule. My employers are very demanding and I have to meet up with the schedule to catch the bonus. I have 4 handmen, handling installations and stuff, keeping the engine rolling. This is my biggest project yet and I want to see it completed without any hiccups.

I do get homesick at times. I wish I had someone back home to talk to but unfortunately I have no one. I am an only child and both my parents are gone. I don't know much about my dad, he left when I was 4. Grew up with my mom who passed on 4years ago from cancer. It still hurts every time I think about her. She was my best friend and I miss her everyday. I did not really have much much friends growing up so when mom passed on I kinda needed to get out of my shell and be a different person. That's when I started traveling and getting out of town. I was in a relationship but it hit the rocks when I found out he was sleeping with his secretary on their many photo shoots out of town, he is a photographer. Been single the past 18months and its finally time for me to smile and live a little.

This is my first time trying out online dating. A client had brought it up during a conversation and she said she met her fiancee online and suggested I should it a try, at least to make some friends. So here I am, taking it easy and trying to see what all of this is about and has to offer. You are the first person I'm meeting online and I hope you won't hurt me, I want to be your partner in crime and have as much fun as I can while it lasts.

I care,
Alicia

 

Once more, Abe is suspicious about Alicia. She says “I have to meet up with the schedule to catch the bonus” and has “4 handmen.” She “lives locally but is out of town.” She says “don't hurt me,” a phrase, he says, that he has often seen before from suspicious profiles on dating sites.  And she offers Abe an involved story for him to become sympathetic with.  Lastly, she ends her email with "I care."

 

Here’s another email response Abe received from Rochelle through Adult Friend Finder.  Again, like so many others, she contacted him…

 

Hey honey. How have u been? I am not back yet we had an extension. It was a very lovely day, I went around town today when I was on break from work with some of the natives out here and I was really surprised and shocked about how people live out here. Things I see everyday makes me thank God and it makes me appreciate my status of being an American. I mean having a different background compared to theirs. I'm not saying that because I'm a racist or anything of such but just to express the kind of way they live here. I have learnt lot about different peoples around the world and their culture. Most of all these countries are third world and they lack knowledge like us. I wish you were here with me honey, so you can understand what I'm saying.

I would love to tell you a bit of my job, I hope I don't bore you on the long run but I will make it short and interesting... UNICEF works for children's rights, supports, survival, protection, and development through education, advocacy, fundraising or donations. It stands for The United Nations Children's Fund. It helps children living in poverty in developing and war-torn countries.

You wont believe UNICEF is the world's child survival authority.. It's helping kids in over 150 countries mostly African countries and territories. Our work includes immunizing and educating boys and girls in war ravished countries, and protecting them from the terror of abuse and also protecting them from war and neglect.. Well enough said!. I have to go now. Hope to read from you soon

Merry Christmas
I care.
Rochelle

 

Who says… “Express the kind of way they live here?” “I have learnt lot?” And again, Rochelle signs off with “I care.”  Rochelle’s email struck us as particularly sentimental, trying to pull on Abe’s heartstrings.  We almost got tearful when she described UNICEF and thought we heard a violin playing mournfully in the background.  In fact, Rochelle’s line “Unicef works for children’s rights…” sounded like such a PR pitch.  We asked Google if it has ever seen that exact set of words anywhere on the Internet.  Can you guess where we found this sentence? It wasn’t at Unicef.org.   Google’s second, third, fourth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth links led us to Romance Scam websites!  The other non-Ad links were for LinkedIn and Facebook profiles of women who were also very suspicious.  Check out a few of the links about these scams:

https://www.stop-scammers.com/scam-email.asp?id=10571  (One woman ends her letter with “I care”)

https://www.scamsurvivors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=24199   (Then conduct a “find” for Unicef)

https://www.romancescam.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=98858 (Then conduct a “find” for Unicef)

http://foreignwomenfakes.blogspot.com/2017/11/talking-alice-thompson.html (Fraud revealed!)

 

According to the blog ForeignWomenFakes.Blogspot.com, working for Unicef is a very commonly used device for Internet scammers.  The scam is executed after building an online relationship with a man, while “she” is working abroad.  And then a problem arises and the woman doesn’t have enough money to resolve that problem.  She presses her new online heart-throb to wire her money!

 

Here are two more suspicious profiles Abe found on the dating site EstablishedMen.com.  Keep in mind that these were from two different women, and also different from the profiles first shown at the top of this article!

 

PROFILE A:
Few words together...
I am drawn to intelligence but not conceit, wonderful humour and someone who is finished with the drama and game playing... it would be nice to have a photo and be around 20 to 60 in age... too much younger or older doesn't seem to mesh 

I'm looking for...
Looking for a hookup tonight. Not to be someone's pin cushion, I want some intelligent conversation and some hot NSA sex. I have some needs that need attending to. Looking for an attractive male around same age and body type. I live an active lifestyle and am in good shape and would like the same. I've been told that I'm a pretty girl but I'd let you be the judge of that.

 No fakes, no games, I want a good looking guy around my age with to have some drinks with and go home with if there's chemistry.

 Send picture with reply. And not of what's in your pants. If you don't feel comfortable with face pics I understand I am same way too. Tell me about yourself. And Find me on gmail at starf0ck3d

===============================

PROFILE B:
Tagline
hit me up here ava0431@gee male dot com 

About Me
Hey I'm a kinky princess looking to be pleased! I'm fairly submissive but I get what I want in bed. I'm not easy to be satisfied my sexual hunger is intense so if you're up for the challenge hit me up. Im looking for a man who knows how to dominate AND RESPECT a woman! I'm kinky, and open minded I'm looking to find something spintaneous or regular play partners 

I'm looking for...
Looking for a hookup tonight. Not to be someone's pin cushion, I want some intelligent conversation and some hot NSA sex. I have some needs that need attending to. Looking for an attractive male around same age and body type. I live an active lifestyle and am in good shape and would like the same. I've been told that I'm a pretty girl but I'd let you be the judge of that. hit me up here ava0431 at gee male dot com

===============================

 

That’s four different women from two different dating websites all saying Looking for a hookup tonight. Not to be someone's pin cushion, I want some intelligent conversation and some hot NSA sex.”  (NSA sex is "no strings attached.") What a remarkable coincidence!  We used Google to search for the exact words Looking for a hookup tonight. Not to be someone's pin cushion” and found hundreds of women’s profile posts on a variety of dating websites…

            Meetplenty.com                                 Pof.com                       Meetlocal.com
            Peachmate.com                                  Gofishdating.com       Thecage.co
            Mingle2.com                                       Webdate.com             Letsmeetup.com

 

We also used Google to search for the exact words “I want some intelligent conversation and some hot NSA sex” and again found over a hundred women’s profile posts on many of the same dating websites we just listed plus these others…

            Adultfriendfinder.com                        Meetnaughtysingles.com       theadulthub.com
            Islandinvasives2017.com

Once you start noticing, says Abe, scam dating profiles are everywhere!

And then there are the scammers who apparently don’t try to very hard to hide the fact that this is a scam to get money.  According to Abe, this “woman” identified as ellabonley9889 from Aurora, IL texted him that she wanted to get together, but her phone was “bad.” She asked Abe if he could send her an Amazon gift card ASAP!  When he replied that he could help her after they met, she became evasive and refused.  Then she deleted her profile!  Abe doesn’t think she was a real woman at all.  It could just as easily have been a Nigerian 419 scammer.  We’ve blurred her photos because they were likely stolen from a real woman.

We don’t know how typical Abe’s experiences are.  He says that he finds more fake or suspicious profiles than profiles that feel legitimate.  Adding insult to injury is the fact that nearly all of his contacts have been via apps, email and texts.  No phone calls, no Skype or facetime.  There’s no guarantee Abe has even been communicating with a woman at all! 

 

Longing for real, live female companionship, Abe has even tried whatsyourprice.com, a dating site where men actually pay women to go on dates with them.  He met a woman whom he dated a few times until he discovered that he was being completely manipulated by a professional!  We’ll let him tell this story…

 

 On What's Your Price, I went out with an eastern European woman.  Her behavior was strange and unpredictably coquettish.  Nice, then mean, then seductive.  Odd behavior designed to keep you off balance.  I stopped going out with her, then months later she asked me to pick her up at the airport.  I drove her home (to her 3,000 sq. foot 45th floor apt) , and was waiting to take her to get her dog (I am a nice person) when I saw a book on the coffee table.  It was the only one in English, so I picked it up out of curiosity.....

Abe continues…

So, here's scamming at another level.  Like the fake profiles on the Web, this is a handbook on how to get money or an income out of lonely men without giving up the sex.  It refers to men as "marks" or "tricks".  It's depressingly cynical and just like men objectifying women as sex objects, here's the monetization of man/woman relationships into fraud and trickery.  This woman actually DOES show up for a date, and she's going in for the kill.  She's even underlining the good parts!  She's taking a course in scamming for money from men, to be a better pirate!  The sex scammer's bible. Oh, what a world!

 

Abe then took the following photos of her book with his phone camera…
(Click the page to enlarge it.)

A footnote from Abe…

He says to watch out for phrases like "I am a God fearing woman!" and also bad grammar.  And he urges men to read profiles carefully and ask yourself if they align with the profile photo.  He’s found profiles, for example, that show a Caucasian woman but her profile says "African American."  Abe calls the dating site “Established Gentleman “ a “sugar daddy” type site full of scam profiles.  For example, he finds many different women (different names and pictures) with identical profile information.

 

The last time we heard from Abe before publishing this article he told us that he was looking forward to a date with a woman he met on Bumble.  They talked!  And Abe was hopeful.

 

TDS doesn’t claim to know everything about dating scams and we’re grateful for Abe’s insights and effort to bring these forms of trickery to our attention.  As a result, and based on what we have previously demonstrated about related dating scams, it’s a wonder there isn’t an outcry from men across the U.S. how risky these sites and apps can be.  If you feel you have evidence of a scam perpetrated through an online dating service that is different than the scams Abe has exposed, let us know.  In the meantime, be careful and safe.  To that end, we offer these no-nonsense rules for using any online/smartphone dating site or service…

  1. Look carefully at her profile information. Does it add up?  Is she “miss all America” but have unusual grammar and awkward English?  If something seems odd or suspicious, walk away.
  2. Do you find some interesting phrases or sentences in her profile?  Try entering them into Google and hit return.  Do you find them on other profiles around the web, or listed on romance scam sites?  Walk away.
  3. If you can’t speak to her in person or via Skype, walk away. Does she keep making excuses?  Walk away.
  4. Does she ask you for money or gifts, even though you’ve never spent any time with her in person? Walk away.
  5. Does she have a crisis in her life and appeal to you for help, and you’ve never met her in person? Walk away.
  6. The Russian expression used by Ronald Reagan in the late 1980’s still has meaning today. “Trust, but verify!”  Ask questions and then check on her responses.  If you begin to see that some things don’t add up…. W-A-L-K  A-W-A-Y!
  7. Think with your head, not with your d****!

UPDATE 1/31/18:
Abe reached out to us after a week with more interesting news.  According to him, EstablishedGentlemen.com is full of scam profiles and not trustworthy at all.  However, he reports having good experiences with Bumble.com.  We're glad to hear that and wish him luck!

Abe also brought another type of nasty dating scam to our attention...  From one site he received the following message from a woman named "Caroline" though we doubt that's her real name:

Abe wondered about that link for the "getapprovalnmber" website so we investigated it.  First of all, the domain is actually byethost18.com.  Byethost.com is a free shared web hosting service in Ohio.  This means that someone created the webpage listed in Caroline's email for free and gave it the name "getapprovalnmbr."  There is nothing official about it despite HOW official it looks when you visit it:

We filled out the form with bogus information and clicked "JOIN" and were redirected to enter credit card information on a website called Kafros.com.  Kafros.com is a very suspicious website.  Google has very little information about this site but we did find people complaining that this site is linked to payments for web cam sex sites.  Read a post here we found on Chargesure.com.   Also, if you look at the very small print at the bottom of this verification process, the text also suggests that you'll be paying $39 for access to sex cam websites.  So do you think this is just a sleazy service?  Think again....

We found complaints on line about these "getapprovalnmbr" websites from other men.  One man named "Lesson Learned" said that he paid for this service to use a sex cam website and had his bank account cleaned out.  You can read his complaint on DatingSitesReviews.com.  Scroll down to his review written on March 6, 2017.  Caveat Emptor!

Keep in mind, offering payment services through free web pages means that there is no bank or legitimate service in the background you can turn to when your transaction goes wrong!  This got us wondering if there were other "getapprovalnmbr" posts on the web trying to get men to pay for services.  It took us no time at all to find others like this one on Weebly, another free web site service:

UPDATE 3/12/2018:
It appears that a good portion of these online dating scams or  sex web cam scams or just about any motivation that drives men online to seek a woman's companionship is to drive you to a "verification site" to prove to a woman that you are not a sexual predator or someone who might take advantage of you.  We've heard from another man we'll call "Rick."  Rick is a single senior who has twice discovered that women he has met through "Plenty of Fish" (POF) ask that he be "verified" as not a sexual predator before they meet with him.  He has to pay a fee for this so-called "verification."  The first time he was scammed out of $53 but was wiser when asked by another woman just days later.  Here are the two different verification sites he was told to use by the women he contacted.  Both are scam sites and we'll break it down for you...

ow.ly/ mS2D30hUagi   
qckfck-DOT-com/ bhzspc

  • Ow.ly site is a shortening service.  The ow.ly link above forwarded Rick to a webpage located on the free website creator called atwebpages.com  (cbc.atwebpages.com/ GenuineCARD41 ? platform=hootsuite)  Why would a legitimate service that takes credit cards use a free website to create and post their pages?  Here is a screenshot of this site:

"Why get Genuine Card? In online dating you surely would not know which person you or talk to is real or fake, as you only communicate through phone or computer...." "The Genuine Card is the Safe Secured Card.  It will ask you to register to a site where in they will verify your identity and make sure that you are safe to meet up with.  It will also record the date and time of the meet up , so if anything happen to anyone during the meet up the site will know who to look for and ask."  Filling in the fields for the "FREE VERIFICATION PROCESS" and clicking NEXT will open a request for your credit card information...

  • The qckfck-DOT-com site also shows a form to sign up for a free account.  There is a redirect on the site that will send you to a website called GetVerifiedToday-DOT-com.  What makes this verification website so suspicious is the fact that it was registered and set up on February 12, 2018 --just 3 weeks before Rick was asked to use it and prove he wasn't a sexual predator.  It was registered through a privacy proxy service in Panama.  All of these points make this a HIGHLY suspicious website in which to enter your credit card information.  Buried in the source code for GetVerifiedToday-DOT-com is an iframe. An iframe is web code for embedding one webpage inside of another web page.  The iframe is pulling a credit card registration page from the website datingsiren-DOT-com.  All three of these questionable sites are registered to someone identified as "Christopher Newnham" in Kirkland, Washington.

We visited the link to GetVerifiedToday-DOT-com and found this text underneath the fields to enter your credit card information:

"By submitting this form, I certify that I have read and agreed with the complete Terms & Conditions of membership and billing. I also confirm that the details entered above are for my own credit card.

Special: Limited Time Bonus Offer
Your full access membership to datingsiren[.]com, also grants you access to www.commonflirt[.]com.

Your Premium Membership: The datingsiren[.]com one-day two-dollar trial membership renews on the next calendar day at thirty-nine dollars and ninety nine cents per month after the trial period ends unless cancelled. commonflirt[.]com offers a 5-day trial that rebills at thirty-nine dollars ninety nine cents after the trial period ends unless cancelled. Special bonus site couplesground[.]com is also available for only thirty-nine dollars ninety nine cents, and is billed once per calendar month after the 9-day trial and flirtvamp[.]com rebills monthly at thirty-nine dollars ninety nine cents after the 45-day trial unless canceled."

Our advice is simple....CAVEAT EMPTOR!  Even if you want to pay for access to a sex web cam, you are likely to get more than you asked for...  Or more correctly, lose more than you bargained for!

Rick has some advice to our readers how to recognize scam dating profiles based on his experiences comparing lots of dating profiles on Plenty of Fish:

  1. Avoid usernames like "XANNAz5x10" and similar ones.  Rick says he finds many like this and they contain other tell-tale signs that they are not real.
  2. If you contact a woman's profile and get an email that begins anything like the following, it is a likely scammer:
    • Glad to hear a word from you.
      Just recently divorced so i dont want anything heavy right now.
      Im not into  games either. The moment i feel you are trying to play shits on me dont wonder i will not respond on you anymore.
      Listen I created profile on the dating site because Im looking for a dominant guy to pleasure me in bed.
      Honestly Im new to the area . Im just looking for some adult time every once in awhile. A no-strings-attached sex.
      My time is limited. Im a single mom and work full time so if i do find someone interested in the same kinda thing as me i just want it to be easy an fun kinda a relief from the norm.
      I also want to be discreet and I'm not looking for intimacy or commitment or have it any other way except for a night of pleasure.
      I am not a hooker just to remind you.
      I'm absolutely fine on keeping things quiet, I hate the idea of messing with other peoples lives, I'm more than happy to just be your toy and let you enjoy your horniness
      btw glad to know that you are just near me.
      So are you into meet up? I would like to meet up tonight and as soon as you would like.
      I would prefer to skip the small talk and just have sex.
      A face pic will help seal the deal instantly. Here's mine. Hope to see even one from yours
      Sorry for sounding too kinky. So let me just clear things out, you would like a night of fun with me without hang-ups, and without anyone knowing you did it?
      I don't know you really, if you just want a clean one night with no attachments afterwards, we don't need deep knowledge of each other beyond the physical and what stories we wish to make together.
      We could do it on my car, at your place or mine or have my share to a hotel room somewhere outside our direct area so we wouldn't be recognized, and we could just enjoy some champagne, and a night in.
      No strings, no consequences. I know I'm clean.
      So when are you available for meet up to hook up?
      Where would you prefer to make this thing happen, your place or mine?

By the way, the FTC.gov website just posted tips about requests for money from online dating scams.  It's short and to the point:  https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/02/has-online-love-interest-asked-you-money

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