Dating scammers, be gone! Dr. Phil and I have railed against it for months, but a feature on a recent CBS This Morning about the “heartbreak of online dating,” subtitled “Older Singles Lose Millions in Online Dating Scams,” finally motivated me to action. An “older” woman lost her entire life savings when a man, posing as a contractor from Virginia, hit her up for $300,000, because he, allegedly, was stranded in Africa by an emergency kidney transplant. Oh! And she had never met him face-to-face.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!!! Why would anyone of any age send any money to someone in a foreign country that she’s never met? It’s obvious to me and should be to anyone else, regardless of her age. The Shrew who lives in my head doesn’t think she’s even as old as I am. However, we agree that the poor lady needed my Deceit Detector™.
“As you age, your ability to decipher deceit declines, so you have to be even more vigilant,” said the “expert” providing commentary. My Deceit Detector™ works like a charm, so I should market it, don’t you think?
The expert also gave tips to recognize potential scammers, such as frequent spelling errors, fake photos, people working overseas, and requests for money. I also smugly report that she said that men are more susceptible to online dating scams, while women report them more often. Ha! Same reason that men don’t ask for directions, I’ll wager.
Haven’t I been telling you about dating scammers for months? I’m not talking about the exaggerations and the liars. I’m talking about stolen photos attached to the profiles of real people. I report several each week. I’m just one woman on a crusade, but some of these other women need to pick up the slack.
Yesterday, a guy “favorited” me. His profile said he was from southern Maryland (a good 50 miles from me) and likes to kayak in Indiana (500 miles from me) on the weekends. The Deceit Detector™ wailed like a banshee. Susceptible Susie would have thought,
“Wow! He lives near the Patuxent Naval Air Station, so he could be a Navy pilot who flies his own private plane. I would love to date a guy with a plane, especially a Naval officer. It’s my lucky day! He’s only 60. He’s cute and young-looking and — uh-oh…”
The Deceit Detector™ did a Google image search of his one-and-only photo, which matched a photo on a dating site in San Francisco. Not only is he not an eligible Naval Officer in southern Maryland, he’s a gay man looking for men in California. See how easy that was, folks? It took less than a minute.
Another guy, from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, wrote to me two months ago and continues to visit my profile regularly. He doesn’t write anything else to me, so it really creeps me out wondering what he’s doing, but I won’t let my vivid imagination go there. This guy registers as a Perv on the Deceit Detector™.
I wrote to another repeated voyeur and said, “Are you just going to keep looking, or are you going to say something?” He’s still looking. I think I need to block him, don’t you?
I replaced the tasteful photo of me on the beach with one where I’m holding a slice of pepperoni pizza, thinking that I needed a more approachable look. I mean, who doesn’t like pepperoni pizza, besides vegans? It must have worked, because, overnight, I had 40 views!
Yikes! The Deceit Detector™ is screaming. As I write this, a guy with no photo and just letters and numbers for a profile name “winked” at me. Clearly, he didn’t read my profile, because it says that I only answer emails. “Hey, MBE67 from city-I’ve-never-heard-of, MI —-“ [Screaming intensifies.] He’s from Michigan!
Susceptible Susie would rationalize that he’s attracted to the Michigan State Spartans shirt I’m wearing in one of my photos, although, since it’s dinner time, maybe he’s winking at the pizza in my hand. Oh! He, too, is a pilot. He says he likes to “fly up to Lake Tahoe”. If Susie is geographically challenged, she doesn’t realize that Lake Tahoe is in California. His profile continues, “I really enjoy biking with my friends along the Monterey peninsula, as I used to live down there and have a lot of friends in the biking community. Most lunch times you will either catch me at Crossfit or on my bike. Also look forward to playing golf with my friends and completing another Ironman.”
He competes in Ironman? Susceptible Susie is really impressed and overlooks that the guy bikes on the Monterey peninsula, which is also in California. Excuse me while I reset the Deceit Detector™ and take a minute to report him for fraud.
I’m back. Today is a big day for “winkers.” Yep, it’s got to be the new pizza photo. After all, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, isn’t it? I heard you could boil cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans in a small pan of water on the stove to entice men, but I think pizza may be better. And all you need is a photo of a slice or an empty pizza box.
A new winker said he’s from New England, so, while I don’t usually respond to winkers, the Deceit Detector™ was humming. I wrote, “Since you’re from New England, if you don’t mind, may I ask, who’s your favorite NFL quarterback?” If he’s legit, he might try to curry favor and say “Joe Flacco” of the Baltimore Ravens, but if he says pretty-boy-turned-ball-deflater Tom Brady of the NE Patriots, he definitely won’t pass the Deceit Detector™.
Then, there was the guy who wanted to chat who said he was from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, just up the road. I was very carefully answering his questions, while I checked his profile and discovered that he was in “construction,” yet all his photos showed him in business attire (ie, dress shirts, ties,and jackets). Ok, so maybe, he owns a construction company but only makes $25,000 a year. After the Deceit Detector™ turned up a nice guy who lives in Florida on Google image search, and after I was able to find the guy’s photo on Facebook with a different name and completely different family, I took over the questioning.
“Have you lived in Lancaster all your life?” I asked, “Which is your favorite Amish restaurant?”
“Just the last 15 years since I moved to the states.”
“Oh. Where were you born?”
“Riga, Latvia, but my mother was born in Alabama.” The Shrew started laughing crazily.
“The Amish is a great restaurant,” he said. By then, the Shrew and I were both cackling.
“Really? The Amish are a religious group, not a restaurant,” I retorted. “Take it elsewhere, scammer.”
And, yes, we reported him to match.com, for all the good it does.
Finally, a 53-year old man in Los Angeles (allegedly) wished to chat. “Jeez,” I asked, “could all these guys from California be the same guy? I must ferret out this mystery in the same way that sexy Australian private detective Phryne Fisher does, using my wits and my devastatingly seductive haircut, if not Phryne’s pearl-handled pistol.”
His first mistake: he opened our conversation with “Hello, dear. How are you today?” No American male calls a woman “dear.”
Mistake #2: Here’s his well-written and inadvertently ironic profile, probably copied and pasted from a real profile:
Mistake #3: In the IM chats, his writing is considerably less polished, to put it kindly. I’ve observed that journalistic standards have plummeted in recent years, but, when I asked him, “As a journalist, for whom do you write?” he responded with:
I replied, “I’m looking for someone honest. Are you honest?” Of course, he ignored my question and started telling me about his “ideal soulmate”:
“…man in the military on here…” stopped me dead cold. Are you a journalist or a “man in the military?” I’ve heard that posing as one of our troops is one of the big scams to gain sympathy, followed by money. This was more disgusting than the guy from Niagara Falls who looks but doesn’t write. It’s way more disgusting than cheating naïve widows by claiming to be sick or incarcerated in Africa and all the others put together. The Shrew was even speechless, so we blocked him. I’m not sure it’s even worth reporting, because I’m convinced that match.com does not care. CBS This Morning’s report said much the same.
Oddly, the news show’s next feature unwittingly provided a possible alternative to online dating. “Robots are replacing humans at a surprising rate,” followed up Charlie Rose, introducing the segment. Of course, this got me thinking…just get rid of the human interaction altogether. Give me a cute robot with a gentle, erudite wit and soft voice, maybe with a southern accent. Hey! Instead of The Jetsons’ Rosie the Robot Maid, give me a robot clone of Charlie Rose the Talk Show Host. He could interview me and write down what I say for this blog. If he gets too annoying, I can always disconnect him, so, who would I be to complain? Life is good (mostly). Soli Deo Gloria!