Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fake Profiles Part 2 - Online Dating

Tags: fake profiles, online dating

In part 1 of my Fake Profiles series, I talked about how people use fake profiles on social networking sites like MySpace to create large friends lists that are nothing more than lead lists to push various marketing efforts. In part 2 I will be focusing on how (and why) people use fake profiles for online dating websites like Match.com and Yahoo Personals.

Like social networking sites, dating websites have become big lead sources for internet marketers (aka, spammers and scammers) to attack. With online dating websites they are able to focus directly on a particularly lucrative niche - singles looking for dates. Having such a valuable and focused niche has drawn all sorts of seedy Web individuals to exploit these types of websites and users by creating fake profiles in an attempt to lure unsuspecting singles seeking net-goers.

So what can an internet marketer do with a fake online dating profile? Well, one of the biggest scams is to create a profile that is designed to attract as many emails as possible from users looking to meet people online. Once they get these emails, the marketer can then use a variety of techniques to profit from the unsuspecting victims. For instance, say I am an affiliate for a competing dating website. Perhaps I'm an affiliate of Match.com and I create a fake profile on Yahoo Personals where I claim to be a hot twenty something girl looking for a good time. Whenever somebody emails me, I could email them back saying I don't really use Yahoo all that much anymore and that I prefer using Match because of it's security, or special features, or any number of other BS reasons. I'd then send a link to the interested party with a link to sign up at Match with my affiliate id in there so that I'd get paid if that person decides to sign up.

Pretty dang simple and you'd be suprised how many people would actually fall for this. Most people have no clue there are people out there creating fake dating profiles purely to trick people into following some affiliate link. If you were on one of these sites and saw somebody that just seemed perfect for you but when you emailed them they said they'd prefer talking with you at another site, wouldn't you go ahead and sign right up? I think you would.

Also, keep in mind the affiliate links they are pushing may not be to other dating sites. They could be to photo sites, adult/pornography sites, and any other number of websites and services that may be used in conjunction with an online dating lead. Also, these people may even be automatting the process so that they are autocreating profiles and autoresponding to requests so that it's all just a "set it and forget it" system.

Think this problem isn't really all that widespread? Think again. Most of these internet marketers care about one thing - money. They love the internet because they can hide behind their computers and pretend like they aren't hurting anybody. Just check out this forum thread of people discussing this very topic (be warned that some of the content on that website is NSFW).

To those out there employing this scam - try to realize it's just that... a scam. You are committing fraud and not only is it unethical, it is likely illegal. You are sending terrible leads to whatever advertiser/service you are an affiliate of, you are scamming individuals out of money, and you are hurting the services you are creating fake profiles on. You're likely not going to care about anything I say because to you, money is everything. It beats pride, self respect, and the notion that stepping on others to make a buck is horrible. Just because you can hide behind your computer screen doesn't mean you're not stealing from people and helping ruin various online businesses.

For people out there looking at dating websites as a way to meet people, don't be too discouraged by this post. Sure, there's some BS out there that may frustrate you, but overall dating websites are still a great resource for singles. Just try to use some common sense when using these services. If a person who seems way out of your league contacts you, you may want to put your guard up. If they try to convince you they use another website or have naked photos of themself somewhere else, realize you've just be targetted for a scam and notify the dating website immediately so that they can disable the offending account.

As a final note, let me say that I've actually used dating websites quite a bit and have met some incredible people - not to mention my current girlfriend who is just amazing.

Comments

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