- Is online dating verification a scam?
- 7 Days on Craigslist's Casual Encounters
- A Quick Tour of the Date Verification Scam
Is online dating verification a scam?
The most common scams are "safe dating" websites. An alleged woman will write a man saying she's interested, but that because of the Craigslist-based serial killers and rapists in the news, she needs some extra assurance that it's safe. If you follow the link she provides, the website asks you for your credit card number — y'know, so it can do a background check to make sure you're not a criminal. One individual tried to get me to buy him or her virtual currency in online games like MapleStory before agreeing to hand over contact information.
Yeah, right — moving on!
What little luck I'd had so far. The week was half over and I hadn't had a single bite. I decided I would have to take the initiative, so in addition to posting my own ads, I started responding to every ad from any woman who seemed at all interesting. I cast a wide net in my searches, looking up posts by straight or bisexual women between the ages of 18 and 35 who lived anywhere in Chicagoland — a large metropolitan area that's home to close to five million females.
Most of the women wanted something very specific they couldn't find in their normal lives: Someone to help play out a particular fantasy, someone vastly older than them or someone of another race. Very few of the women who were advertising seemed to be looking for anything I would consider a "normal encounter. I typically wrote two or three paragraph replies and matched the tone of their own messages, then attached a couple of tasteful photos of myself.
I didn't get a single reply from an actual prospect this way.
It turned out that most of the ads were fakes from scammers, and quite a few fell into another category all together. Prostitution is what made Craigslist controversial. There's technically another section for that — "Adult Services," formerly "Erotic Services" — but that's not the only place you'll find practitioners of the world's oldest profession. The prostitutes of Craigslist speak in code, but it's not a difficult one to learn.
They advertise "French lessons" — an odd thing to advertise under "Casual Encounters," don't you think? Well, it's obviously a euphemism for something else. Many of the ads that weren't from scammers were from prostitutes. The ads are so obvious that it's surprising the euphemisms are effective in fending off law enforcement. Then again, maybe they are law enforcement. Amidst all those failures, I had one near-success. A woman wrote in response to my sweet "cuddling first" ad saying she was in town for only a couple of months, and that she was frustrated she couldn't find a relationship.
When she sent her pictures, she looked plain but attractive. We exchanged a couple of e-mails over the course of two hours, tossing back and forth lists of interests and the like. She made it clear that she wanted to meet up, and while she talked about starting slow, it was clear that it would indeed be a casual encounter. But when I suggested a time to meet — the last message from me before I would reveal myself and back out — there was no reply.
At least, not yet. The next day, she e-mailed me saying she was deeply apologetic and that she'd fallen asleep. She said she'd like to meet up sometime. So yes, there are women on Craigslist. Well, at least one! You've probably guessed by now that the experiences for heterosexual men and women on Craigslist's casual encounters are quite different. I observed that for every ad a woman posts, there are at least 20 from men. If nothing else, that imbalance ought to alter the experience.
To get the female perspective, I did two things: The way that the scam site uses the iframe command, you cannot see the fine print, you have no ability to see it — unless you go to the source code, and click on the iframe link. This is something that the average consumer could not know how to do. Here is a picture of the iframe command from the website code, with my emphasis:. The dating sites rotate. The click generator connects to a different dating site each time someone uses the date verification site. Eventually, the path from the click generator lands the billing page of what I am calling a Branded Dating Company sometimes called private label.
The way it works is that the White Label company provides an aggregated membership database, and operations for the website and billing. Individual entrepreneurs create their own company brand and website theme. The white label company collects the payment from new members as they sign up to the website. They take their service charge off the top, then pass the remainder to the branded site owner. Each of these Branded Dating companies, will have two sites.
The click generator directs you to the billing site sign-up page. This site has a seemingly gibberish name, for example, Stgved. When it appears on your credit card bill, it will use the billing site, followed by a toll-free number. My investigation has found more than branded dating sites. Also, the click generator can route you down a pornography path, depending on which click generator is active in the Date Verification scam site. Instead of landing on a branded dating billing and signup page, you land a branded pornography sign up page. There are more than branded pornography sites.
7 Days on Craigslist's Casual Encounters
The corresponding pornography sites are explicit and mostly X-rated, so I will just leave it to the imagination. It is clear they know people are being charged without their knowledge. They discourage you from disputing the charges with your bank, and they want to handle it themselves. They do this for two reasons: If you sign up for the site, you will not meet the girl — There is no girl. You will receive multiple emails that encourage you to sign up. Next the bot will send several spammy emails for you to join other hookup sites.
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Then the scammers sell your email to spam marketers. Sometimes the scammer will send an email that gives you a credit card number, including a Card Verification Value CVV and expiration date. What I do know, is that using a credit card that you are not authorized to use would be a felony. A person doing could be exposed to blackmail. You are going to get a monthly charge on your credit card. Some sites will have instructions to check your email.
The email supposedly articulates the charges. I have yet to hear from someone who states they received such an email. Even if they did, there are a few problems. The charge, which could be 30 days old or more is completely unfamiliar to them. The gibberish site will not appear in their history at all until they visit it. These sites operate outside of the US. When I first started investigating this scam, they usually came from Bangladesh and did not register anonymously. More and more, perhaps due to my blog, they register anonymously.
Here is a recently active scam site that is not registered anonymously. Ahsraf Tarafdar, from Dhaka, Bangladesh owns this site:. Owner information is from whois functions readily available on the Internet. I like to use cqcounter. Their whois function combines hosting, geography and registration information in one page. I have found several different generators.
The owners register most of the sites anonymously. Registries are in China, the United States and Panama. Small person companies in the UK own most of the Branded Dating sites. They appear to be shells, often with many having the same address in small offices in the UK. There are also companies in Cyprus, Spain, and the Netherlands. The companies register most of the branded sites anonymously. However, it is possible to go to the billing site and get the company name and address. From that information, it is possible to look up the person in the U.
She is quite a lovely woman. No Natasha, the internet is not anonymous. With some poking around, it is possible to find the owners of companies in Spain and Cyprus. The owner is Vlad Bulgariu — a Romanian Surname. One of the other tricks I use is using the DomainBigData website to cross index and find what sites an individual or company owns. Vlad owns at least 8 branded dating sites:. By looking at the IP address of the dating billing sites I can see 3 different locations.
This could be one company with distributed operations or 3 different companies. The other clue is the fact that there are so many sites, that it must be concluded that it is not a small fly-by-night operation — it has to be substantial to handle the traffic and the customer service phone call volume. A lot of the owners register their sites anonymously in Panama.
Registrations and hosting services are business expenses. I contacted the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists The Panama Papers team to see if they had any information in this area. I never received any type of response. It was a long shot. Typically, if you have a web site that you want people to visit, you take measures to help search engines find you. The subject of Search Engine Optimization is complex, and people make a living off of it — far beyond the scope of this article.
The best way is via illustration. There will be some paid and relevant news items first. They do this by putting program code on their website that helps the search engine understand what it is seeing, and provide the most valuable results to the user. Contrast that to these branded dating sites.
They take specif action to tell search engines not to find them in the robots file robots. The first line an instruction that this section applies to all search engines. The second line tells a search engine to not index any pages on this site. This is not a default setting in a website. This website owners create this code. However because the site owners have instructed the search engines not to find them, it does not appear anywhere in the search results.
Obviously, I cannot look at sites, but I have looked at a few dozen. They are all the same.
A Quick Tour of the Date Verification Scam
The website owners build the web page to be used this way. That web page, where you are really typing your information, contains only the basic data entry elements and the hidden text. Contrast that to any website where you are signing up for a service, where you have a full page of content that describes where you are and what you are doing. Said differently, the owner of the Branded Dating site created a page specifically for someone else to use to sign up to their site. It is the key enabler of this deception. The sites use a geolocation service that looks at your internet protocol IP address and displays the city or area code where you connect to the internet.
This makes it appear as if the woman is near you. A person across the country would see the same woman as near them as well. Disguised small print terms and conditions hyperlink. Most sites you cannot see this link. When you can, it is very small. A hyperlink appears in blue text by default, but these sites will override that and make it blend in to the surrounding text.
Spelling out the amount of the charge. Again, on most sites, you cannot even see this part of the page.
These sites sometimes have a checkbox that is pre-checked for you to sign up for their premium service that does not look like a checkbox. The Branded Dating sites and click generators are fairly static. There is no telling how many of the Date Verification sites there are. They come and go. As one site goes down, another pops up. The hosting company might take down a site if they receive a complaint. Out of curiosity I wonder how much they charge for attempted murder. Related Questions Just got an email from unmonitored-mailbox childservi My yahoo account has been locked?
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