Monday, February 21, 2011

How to spot an Internet Dating scammer.

Sometimes I get messages from men in Facebook or another site I am on and they tell me that my profile is very interesting but don't refer to anything specific. I had to teach myself what to watch out for and I can practically smell those sleezeballs.

I met a couple of men in My Space and learned a lot from them as they were dating scammers who were intent on making me fall in love with them and send them money.  The first one actually asked me for money, which he didn't get, and I found out the second guy was fraudulent, when gave he me enough information to Google him.  In fact I found his profile on a scammer watch dog web site where I discovered that he had many aliases and email addresses. I did a lot of research to arm myself against these people.

You may think you are writing to a beautiful woman in Russia or a handsome man in Henderson NV, but the truth is that you are most likely talking to a man in Nigeria, Russia or even in an Asian country. If a picture is used, it is stolen from the Internet. The profiles are fiction.  Dating scams aren't the only kind of messages you can get.  I have received messages and friend requests from teenagers living in Africa or Eastern Europe who want friends to "practice their English with,"  which seems innocent enough, until some (fake) catastrophe hits the family and the kid starts asking for money.

There is no dating site, or social networking site that is completely free of scammers. So those using the sites have to be wary. However the sites do work hard to eliminate them and the good news is that scammers are fairly easy to spot.  Following is a list of things to watch out for.

~The scammers usually say they are new to online dating and in their profile says they have just joined the site and have no friends yet.  I don't even trust those who  have few friends, or those who only have friends of he opposite sex.
~99% of the scammers have a Yahoo email and chat.  They don't want to talk to you in My Space, Face Book or the dating sites even though each has it's own chat system, but they want to get you to talking in Yahoo chat because the sites are on the lookout for scammers and the phonies are at risk of having their account shut down.  I would say this is the biggest read flag.
~Their email address often reflects their pursuit of relationships, like "richeartlover," "lookinforlove," and "rickhasit4u".
~The big red flag is they write as if English is not their first language.  Odd use of words, and backward phrases. Scammers don't talk quite as well in chat as they might in email, relying on copying and pasting when they can.
~Scammers seem to have trouble with grammar, capitalization and punctuation.  Most all the emails have sentences with no spaces between the periods and the next word.  The spelling might be OK as they have spell checkers, but they mix up words like, "there, their and they're."  Of course I know they're a lot of people are not used to typing and don't it perfectly, but this still can be an indication something is not right.
~Their stories are similar. They generally say they are working overseas as contractors, engineers, or in construction. That is where the scoundrels live, so they need a plausible reason for using an international phone number or for you to send money out of country.  In regards to male scammers, they almost always say they are widowed, or divorced because of the infidelity of the wife.  They nearly all have just one child--usually a daughter who is usually around age 19. If he says he has a son the boy is generally 11 or 12 years old. They often have a tragic story --one man wrote he lost his family in Katrina, another said his son was killed in the Fort Hood shootings.  Loved ones lost in car crashes are scammers favorite stories.  The intent is to tug on their victims heartstrings.
~They are lavish with their compliments on your profile picture and use sweet terms of endearment. They say things like,  "I got attracted to you," "I am blushing already." or "God must be missing an angel in heaven because I am looking at her right now." Cutie, pretty, gorgeous, beautiful, sweetie, baby, and so on.  These men will say they like your profile but make no comment about anything specific, since they don't bother to read the profile
~They usually fall in love quickly, immediately talking about relationship and marriage.
~All of the scammers make similar comments like they are all reading from the same manual-- things that women are supposed to want to hear like-- they like to walk on the beach, watch a sunset, look at the stars, sit in front of the fire, hold hands, cuddle, dance, cook (oh yeah--bring it on!).   Or they say they have a sense of humor. Or they are sincere, caring and honest.  They often say they don't want someone who plays games. (sheesh-what are THEY doing?)  "Age is only a number" is a favorite.
~They make big mistakes.  Sometimes they give their weight and height in the metric system even though they say were born and live in the US. And one guy's profile said he didn't drink, but he had a picture of himself with a beer in his hand.
~They all say they are Christian or God fearing.  Once they realize you are religious too, they pepper their conversations with reference to the Lord.  This is the sad part.
~They use fraudulent Photos.  Photos are stolen from the internet.  There are all types --snapshots and professional pictures from modeling agencies.  Since the scammer is often African, he (or she) has to have an American photo to convince you he is really from Henderson NV, or where ever.

The world is full of nice people, but also the unscrupulous, so we have to be as the Scripture admonishes: wise as serpents and gentle as doves.

Friday, February 11, 2011


You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.  —Wayne Gretzky

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. —Will Rogers

A man looked at my house who is an investor.  While he never actually made an offer, his agent is in the same office as mine and they were discussing what he wanted to offer.  When my agent asked me what I thought, I told him I couldn't go for it.  After two price reductions a 14% cut was too much.  I was miffed at the buyer, that he thought I should take that kind of loss so he can make money.  The truth is that it is my house and I can do what I want with it, and I have the right to make sure I can afford a decent home with the proceeds of the sale of this one.

I have settled for less so many times in my life while others who are bolder and aggressive get more than their fair share.  I have let my needs be subordinate to the wishes of others.  This has been a pattern of behavior for me, which I am shedding like a ragged old garment.

I was thinking about an old boy friend today.  I have remembered him fondly, saying that he never mistreated me.  I suddenly wondered why that was good enough for me ?  Simply that he never mistreated me?  There was so much more I wanted from that relationship that I didn't get and while he didn't abuse me, he did mistreat me.  He didn't want to date me exclusively, and he decided when we would see each other.  His mistreatment took the form of unavailability and control.  And I accepted it.  I wanted to be with him so much we met on his terms.  I was settling for less than the best in a relationship.  I have done that in my marriage and other kinds of relationships.  I have made others my priority when I was only an option to them.

Now I am single again, and being alone is hard.  Valentine's day is excruciating without a sweetheart, but maybe I will always be single, because in my new life I don't intend settle for seconds and thirds.  Not on the price of my home, not in my personal life, not in friendships, and certainly not in any potential relationship with a man.

Still, I have great hope--that I will receive the best in everything I desire in my life, simply because I won't accept anything less.

The lilies are from my garden.  I can't see them now because they are in frozen ground under the snow but they are there--they come back faithfully every year.