Kathryn's Blog

Annie’s Mailbox and Nigerian Scams

Once I started writing about scams, I saw it everywhere.  Even in the advice columns.  Here’s a letter in “Annie’s Mailbox” that appeared in our local paper on 4/16.  While it is not about Internet dating scams per se, the writer does describe the oh-so-typical Nigerian scam.  The “Annie’s” writers give some good resources.  I’ve been writing about scamming for all of you singles out there who are looking for love online.  You want to stay safe, and I want to help.  If you are looking for specific answers to you questions about scamming, go take a look at my One Page $1 Wonders.

Dear Annie: In the past month, I have received three e-mails from different people asking me to send a deposit and they will forward a winning lottery ticket to me. In exchange for cashing it for them, I will get a portion of the money. One letter said I had won a contest from Chevron, but the address was from Nigeria.

I know these are scams, but I’m sure there are a few people who might fall for them. What do I do with these e-mails? — Palmdale, Calif.

Dear Palmdale: Report them to the Federal Trade Commission. Most such scams involve people claiming to be Nigerian officials or surviving spouses of former government officials, who very politely offer to give you money if you will help them transfer funds out of the country.
You are then asked to provide your bank account number and some money to cover legal and transaction fees. You may even be encouraged to travel to Nigeria or a border country to complete the transaction. Sometimes, the con artists will produce fake money to verify their claims.

According to the State Department, people who have responded have been beaten, subjected to threats and extortion, and in some cases, murdered. And, of course, there is a stream of excuses why there was never any transfer of funds to your account.

If you receive an e-mail from someone claiming to need your help getting money out of another country, do NOT respond. Forward it to the FTC at . If you have lost money to one of these schemes, call your local Secret Service field office (listed in the Blue Pages of your telephone directory). To file a complaint or get information, visit ftc.gov or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-).


Could you be scammed?

What kind of people are most vulnerable to Internet dating scams? 

According to Alan Prince, who writes a blog on internet dating scams:

1. Elderly people and other lonely groups: Elderly women and men looking for companionship are believed to be especially vulnerable to the romance scams.They are believed to be soft at heart,and willing to part with their money in return for romantic affection and attention. Other lonely groups of people are also a prime target. Their loneliness makes them to be in need of some form of company,which may not be readily available around them in their immediate environment and which the scammers readily provide.

2.Separated women,recently divorced women and the like are easy targets of the scammers. The trauma of their divorce or separation makes them vulnerable to internet love scams. The scammers hunt on various dating sites for women like these,often sifting through thousands of profiles in the process.

3.Overweight people:these set of people are about the easiest to target and to scam,according to the scammers. It appears some overweight people need someone to admire them and to love them the way they are. And it also appears that a number of them are insecure emotionally.Maybe as a result of this, some overweight women seem to do anything to hold on to a man,even if they do not know if he is for real. It appears that it is their sense of insecurity and their need for acceptance that is often exploited to get money of them.

4.People Looking For Sex: Many adult websites are a special target of the scammers.The scammers show nude pictures of themselves and pretend to engage in sexual acts with the persons they meet on the site. Usually,the people scammed through adult sites never disclose that they were scammed or they keep their losses to themselves. All who lost money to scams through this means declined to give figures of how much they were scammed of when interviewed.

People living with AIDS, and differently-abled people are also a target of the scams.


Guys get scammed, too…

Men are not immune from being scammed.  Here’s advice from a site call Russian Women Blacklist, with both hints on how to identify a possible scam as well as how to protect yourself:

Avoiding being scammed is, in fact, easy.
The simple rule of thumb is: DO NOT SEND MONEY.
Men who end up being scammed manage to ignore numerous red flags on their way in.

Anyway, here are a few thoughts you might find useful:

• All services on this site, as well as any other reputable dating service, ARE FREE FOR WOMEN. Internet access in Russia is more or less affordable these days to anyone. Quite a few people have computers at home, even more at work. Even if a girl has to use an internet cafe of a kind, the fees there would not be so unbearable, that she has to ask you to sponsor her correspondence if she is interested in corresponding with you.

• Be realistic. Unless you are a rich movie/pop/sports star, it is rather unlikely that a model looking girl will fall deeply in love with you right after your first letter.
This is NOT serious relationship you are looking for

Plots mainly utilized by scammers are not so many

a) A US visa is hard to get, but there is a tourist agency that has connections with the US consulate and the problem can be taken care of for $1000.
No matter how much of your $1000 the ‘tourist agency’ is willing to pay at the consulate/embassy, this just CANNOT be enough to bribe the consul.
Unless you have a senator friend who can personally call the embassy, practically the only way for a single girl to get into the US is by means of FIANCEE VISA you have to apply for. You do not have to marry a girl you invited on a fiancee visa, you can apply for as many visas as you wish later, as long as it is one at a time.

b) After you get the first very promising response from a girl, she disappears for a week, then comes up with a tragic story: father (mother) needs money for urgent heart surgery, or she (her father) has been in a road accident and the mob now wants $$$ in damages or she (her kid sister) is to become a sex slave to a mafia boss, or she has lost her job, or a combination of the above.
The possibility of such a story to be true is very low. Moreover, it is very unlikely that a person has nobody but a resent Internet acquaintance to ask for help when something bad does, in fact, happen. And, on top of that, it very unlikely that a good Russian woman would do so too. Use your discretion.


OBC does it again…

More humor from OnlineBootyCall:

Booty Call Commandments:

I.  Thou shalt get out before the sun rises
II. Thou shouldest never ask “can we see each other from now on?”
III. Thou shalt refrain from referring to our activities as “love making.”
IV. Thou shalt not request advanced plans.
V. Thou shalt kiss anything except my mouth.
VI.  Thou shalt scream my name often
VII. If someone cometh over whilst thou art here, thou art my cousin from out of town.
VIII. Thou shalt not ask me to walk thee to thy car. Don’t thou knoweth what it looketh like?
IX. There shall be no “pillow talk.”
X. There shall be no cuddling—ever!


What does an Internet dating scam look like?

I’m always on the lookout for ways to keep singles safe in their search for love.  Here’s a description of how a typical Internet dating scam works --

From hoax-slayer.com:
Internet Dating Scams
There are a great many quite legitimate dating service websites that allow members to establish online relationships. Often, these online friendships blossom into genuine long-term relationships. An increasing number of people have found life-partners via relationships started online.

Sadly however, scammers have managed to effectively exploit this trend to further their own nefarious ends. Many people around the world have been duped into sending money to Internet fraudsters posing as would-be girlfriends or boyfriends.

A typical Internet dating scam goes like this:

1. A person registers at an online dating service and creates a profile. The profile will include information, and possibly a photograph, of the person along with a way for interested people to make contact.

2. In due course, a scammer contacts the person posing as someone interested in exploring a possible romantic relationship.

3. The victim responds and the pair begins corresponding regularly. They may soon bypass the dating service contact system and start communicating directly, usually via email.

4. Over time, the scammer will slowly earn the trust of the victim. He or she may discuss family, jobs and other details designed to make the correspondent seem like a real person who is genuinely interested in the victim. Photographs may be exchanged. However, the “person” that the victim thinks he or she is corresponding with, is likely to be purely an invention of the scammer. Photographs may not even show the real sender. The victim’s apparent love interest may look completely different to the person in the photograph and, in reality, may not even be the same gender.

5. After the scammer has established the illusion of a genuine and meaningful relationship, he or she will begin asking the victim for money. For example. the scammer may claim that he or she wants to meet in person and ask the victim to send money for an airfare so that a meeting can take place. Or the scammer may claim that there has been a family medical emergency and request financial assistance. The scammer may use a variety of excuses to entice the victim to send funds.

6. If the victim complies and sends money, he or she will probably receive further such requests. With his or her judgement clouded by a burgeoning love for the scammer’s imaginary character, he or she may continue to send money.

7. Finally, the victim will come to realize that he or she has been duped, perhaps after waiting fruitlessly at the airport for a “lover” who, will, of course, never arrive.

8. Meanwhile, the scammer pockets the money and moves on to the next victim. In fact, the scammer may be stringing along several victims simultaneously.

In many cases, the victim will not only have lost out financially, but will also be left broken-hearted and thoroughly disillusioned. These scammers tend to pray on victims that may be especially lonely, shy or isolated and therefore more vulnerable.

There are a number of variations on the same basic scam. In some cases the scammers may be the one to create a profile on a dating site and wait for a potential victim to contact them. Typically, the profile will include a photograph of a very attractive young woman who will have no trouble attracting would-be suitors.

In other cases, the scammers may simply send out random unsolicited emails professing a desire to begin a relationship in the hope that some gullible recipients will favourably respond. Alternatively, they may strike up a conversation with a potential victim via an Internet chat room.

In some variations of the scam, the fraudsters may not ask for money directly. Instead, they may ask their victim to cash money orders or cheques and wire them the proceeds. The money orders or cheques will turn out to be fake or stolen and the victim will be left out of pocket and possibly held responsible for receiving stolen funds. The scammers may also try to trick victims into revealing sensitive information such as credit card numbers.

If you begin corresponding with a person with a view to a possible romantic relationship, remain cautious even if the relationship seems to be progressing very well. These scammers are very skilled at building trust and know how to make vulnerable victims fall in love with them. Regardless of the strength of your feelings towards a correspondent, you should view any requests for money as highly suspicious. If you do suspect a scam, you may be able to find information on a dating blacklist website such as the Russian women dating scam list . These sites publish information and photographs of known dating scammers. Internet dating scammers often used the same names, family details and cover stories in multiple dating scams. Therefore, you may be able to expose a scam by conducting Internet searches on the names used by the scammers or key phrases from their emails.


Cads to watch out for

An amusing take on Internet dating cads, right out of Merry Old England:

Warning: don’t date these men!

a woman at a computer

When dating online, you’ll probably end up sifting through a lot of dodgy profiles before you find your perfect match. We’ve saved you the ground work and identified six toxic types you’ll meet on the web dating scene

The serial online dating addict

For the serial online dater (let’s call him S.O.D.), the novelty of the new date never wears off. You may think he’s going out with you, but he will never stop hunting for other women online. He’ll never love you as much as he loves the thrill of the online chase.

How to spot him
He’s probably been an active member of a dating site for many months, or even years. He seems to be online all the time. His photo is handsome and he’s open-minded about the kind of woman he wants. It’s not that he can’t get a date, it’s that he can’t get enough.

Sadly, the only real way to tell an S.O.D. is once you’re going out with him. A month or two in, he seems smitten. But he hasn’t taken his profile down, and he’s still logging in. You have to confront him, tell him it’s you or the website. A man who wants to keep you hanging on while he keeps his options open isn’t man enough for you.

The self-esteem leech

Nothing you do is ever good enough for this control freak. You spend hours making him a mix CD of your favourite songs, and he criticises your taste. You slave in the kitchen over a three-course meal, and he sneers at it like a restaurant critic. Dare to gain a couple of pounds, and you’ll get a lecture about carbs.

Do not give him the time of day. He demands perfection for you while failing to notice his own faults, and he expects you to share all his tastes rather than having a mind of your own.

How to spot him
A self-esteem leech is not easy to spot, because when he’s chasing you he’s devastatingly charming. It’s only once you’re ‘his woman’ that he’ll start to chip away at your confidence.

But once you’ve found the strength to dump him, you will quickly realise that you’re better off without him.

The computer dating gamer

The dating scene has always been full of game-players, but the online dating gamer is a special breed. He treats online dating like a computer game. He creates a profile that bears little relation to reality, and has hours of fun seeing how many ‘hits’ he can score.

He’ll enjoy flirting with you and whipping you into excitement, but will never meet you.

How to spot him
The gamer may give himself away through weird inconsistencies in his profile or emails. He’ll lose interest quickly and never meet you for an offline date.

The rebounder

A dumpee can be a very enthusiastic boyfriend. He’s grateful for your affection and desperate to prove to his ex that he’s happy without her. And that’s the point: it’s all about his ex, not you.

The rebounder still thinks about her first thing in the morning and last thing at night. He’ll never stop hoping for a reconciliation. If she offers any hint of hope, you won’t see him for dust.

How to spot him
He’ll probably fill his profile with veiled references to his heartache and not-so-veiled criticisms of his ex. ‘I’m looking for a woman who won’t slag off my clothes and make me spend weekends with her mother’ is the mark of a man who’s stuck in the past.

Don’t assume that separated or divorced men are rebounders. It takes time and courage to walk away from a marriage, so chances are he’s had a while to get over it.

The married man

Dating websites aren’t quite the adulterous knocking shops that some believe them to be. But online, just as in any bar, you’re bound to find men in search of some extra-marital pulling.

How to spot him
The biggest clue is the absence of a photo on his profile. He won’t include much personal info either, and when you start emailing he’ll neatly sidestep your questions.

He may want to meet up quickly rather than get caught up in a three-week email bonding session, and he’ll only see you at odd times, perhaps a bit of Wednesday afternoon delight or a weekday evening rendezvous.

He’s not keen on weekend dates, because he has other commitments. Like a wife and two kids!

The pretty boy

You say you want a man who is wise, witty and kind to animals. But when you’re browsing online profiles, you click on the ones with pretty faces. It’s human nature.

Worse, dating a guy who is better looking than you will leave you feeling insecure. You know that he can get any woman he wants, so you’ll always be looking over your shoulder. My tip: use him for sex and move on.


Rudeness online? It’s about them, not you…

Why don’t they answer my emails?  Where did he/she disappear to?  Newspaper columnist Carolyn Hax’s interesting viewpoint below:



I know you get these all the time, but I really could use some perspective. Where have all the manners gone in dating? I met someone online, went on a couple of dates, he was polite, showed interest and appeared to be someone worth getting to know.

He made an effort to be in touch with me when he was busy with work. He called me over the weekend and, since I was out running errands, asked me to call him when I got home. I did and haven’t heard from him since.

Yesterday I checked my online account and saw that he had severed our communication through the site (we hadn’t used it in weeks, since we were seeing each other in person). He didn’t even have the guts to write a note saying he was sorry but it wasn’t going to work out. No explanation, nothing.

I was shocked at how rude this was. In a very calm but perplexed voice, I left him a message saying that I was surmising that he wasn’t interested based on his action, and that I was disappointed, because I thought we had agreed that we both thought it polite to just tell someone you weren’t interested because it wouldn’t have been a big deal. (I mean, geesh, it had only been a couple of weeks of dating.) And I would have shown him that courtesy had the situation been reversed.

Now, I was a little hurt, but more shocked at how cowardly he behaved. Is this what happens these days?

Do you think I did the right thing by pointing out his bad behavior?


If it made you feel better, then you did the right thing. If it made you feel worse, then file that away for next time, and just let future doinks think they got away with one.

I do believe, though, that you need to expect there will be a next time.

I could probably fire off a good rant about where all the manners have gone in general, not just in dating, but you have enough specifics here that I don’t have to.

No one seeks awkwardness. Some people feel it more than others, some fear it more than others. Now, just about everyone has the Internet. So, now people who mostly fear awkwardness can hide all they want behind electronic dodges.

Those same dodges, meanwhile, are available to protect those who treat others as disposable: There are more people online and more degrees of separation, and that means your average jerk can feel pretty confident that s/he can treat Internet dates horribly without getting busted for it at home, work or favorite hangouts.

If you date at all, just by the nature of dating you’re going to be meeting a lot of new people and you’re going to be in more situations where awkwardness and misunderstandings are common. So you’re going to see manners break down no matter what.

Date online, though, and while not everyone will be rude, you will be choosing your dates from the pool with the highest concentration of people who are looking for an easy way out of something. In other words, get used to what just happened.


Blogging about love

Love those bloggers.  Cate Sevilla pokes fun at Internet dating…

Hot fuss: why is online dating still treated as though it’s mysterious and new?

Cate Sevilla writes…

Can we get over this whole “online dating” thing and stop calling it a phenomena? After its initial boom and mystery practically 10 years ago, why are we still freaking out about it? I suppose that it’s still technically new, and that the Internet and social networking and meeting people online is somewhat scary to the more conservative and the blessed technophobes.

However, surely mainstream media is a bit tired of analyzing the mystifying concept of online courtships? Between the “It’s dangerous! It could kill you!” forewarnings, the Bridget Jonesy “It’s so hard to find a nice bloke online” articles and books, why are we still *realizing* that its just as hard to meet The One online as it is in real life?

I’m not sure why people are still under the illusion that:

a) it’s easier to meet people online

b) tech savvy daters online don’t understand that most people lie or are exaggerating to some degree, because they do

c) if you meet someone online they will definitely try to kill you

d) it’s a good idea to meet someone you hardly know at their remote farmhouse in a forgien country because you talked on the phone once or twice and feel a *real connection*

Look, maybe I’m just used to being around bloggers, tech nerds, and people who spend more time indoors hunched over laptops than they do outside in the fresh air...but I just don’t understand the fascination any more. Sure, I think there are some news stories regarding online dating which are newsworthy. If you’re giving actual advice instead of just moaning and whinging about how you meet complete losers all the time and GOD WHERE IS HE ALL READY, that’s just boring. Online dating can be cool, but must we really mull over the same angles, news stories and columns every damn week?

Some new stories I’d like to see on the whole internet dating story or how the internet effects couples are the following:

-Couples who got married after meeting online: do you still email each other? Do you still refer to your husband as SexyIsBack343? Do you read all your old chat sessions together every anniversary and reminisce? Do you spice up your sex life with random acts of cyber sex, just to keep things interesting?

-Are you a parent who’s son or daughter who only dates people they find online? Are you concerned, or does it seem normal to you? Or are you too busy trying to wean your son of WoW to care how he meets girls, and are just happy he’s attractive to someone, somewhere?

-Are you the partner of a famous blogger and/or web celeb? Do you get sick of them posting *cute* photos of you on Flickr and sharing with the world your flatulence problem?

-Have you caught your online boyfriend cheating on you on Facebook? Did an unsuspecting coworker tag a photo of him taking a jello shot off some girl at his office party? Did you totally change your relationship status after that?

See? Wouldn’t that me a new, fresh angle on the whole dating and relationship culture online? Wouldn’t you want to read that instead of how some dude met some chick and she was a lot uglier than she was in her photos, whilst never actually admitting that he too lied about being 25 and an ex Abercrombie & Fitch model?



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