Dating Roundup: Safety, Security, and Truth in Advertising

blog post woman on phone

It’s time to revisit safety, security, and fabricated profiles in online dating. It’s an ever-present topic for me as I sift through profiles and interact with matches. When I started online dating, I spent a lot more time vetting matches. I still vet them but I’ve become pretty good at recognizing the scammers so I often don’t need to go through all of the investigative hoops such as doing Google image searches. Along the way, I found some shortcuts and tips.

Pass the salmon burgers with sweet pickle relish while I discuss the issue and the shortcuts. Warning: parts of today’s chat get a bit geeky.

Coffee Meets Bagel recently sent me a good reminder about online safety with a list of common scammer behaviors and profile characteristics:

-Profession in the military or engineering, works out of the country

-Recently widowed with children

-Overly complimentary with flowery, romantic language right off the bat

-Poor English and grammar, but high level of education (Master’s, Ph.D., etc.)

-Quick to get you off the app and into email/some other messaging app, but not text (they don’t have a working cell phone).

I disagree about the texting. I find scammers will sometimes text but rarely will they speak on the phone to you.

One of my go-to security checks is the Google image search mentioned above. This tool searches the web for photos that match the one you’re checking out. So, for example, you can see if a person in another geographic location has the same photo. Sometimes you will find that the photo is of a celebrity in another country.

I’m often using dating apps on my phone or tablet rather than my laptop. I wondered if there is a way to do an image search on these devices.

Mobile Image Search Tools

Of course, consult Google whenever you have a question. Not only are there reverse image apps, but there are a couple of other tricks. A PC Magazine article about image searching from a cell phone identified one strategy: using CTRLQ, a so-called Google Image search “wrapper.” Created by Amit Agarwal, this website tool can be used to search images on mobile devices.

To search an image from a dating app, you must first save it.

How do you save those Tinder and other app profile pictures? Take a screenshot of the image. On an iPhone or iPad, simultaneously press and hold the sleep/wake button on the top or side of your device while also pressing and holding the home button. You’ll hear the click of the camera. Your saved image will be in the camera roll. You can then select that image when using an image search app (see below), CTRLQ, or the desktop version of Google (another way to do an image search on your phone). Try it; it’s an easy process.

If you have an Android phone, you can use a similar technique to save images. Digital Trends reviewed screen shot techniques for a variety of Android devices.

Image Search Phone Apps

If you have an iPhone, type “image search” in Apps and you’ll encounter a number of tools. I downloaded Veracity and found it to be seamless. I’m not aware of any Android image search apps but CTRLQ should work on these mobile devices.

Non-Geek Tips

Safety is not always the issue with false profiles. Sometimes it’s a matter of misrepresentation. For example, how many men have you dated who have obviously lied about age and height?

One possible clue that a man has lied about his age: he is willing to date women 5 + years older. An older age preference doesn’t necessarily mean a man is 5 years older than he says, but look at his picture and see if that could be the case.

Age fabrication may not bother you. However, some of my friends say, “Well, what else is he lying about?” I tend to be forgiving if there is only a couple of years difference…but a bigger lie is more troubling and a likely deal breaker.

Another quick way to check out a new match is to search his screen name. You may find his alias on other dating, sex, and general sites. You can learn a lot from this easy sleuthing.

An Almost Meet Cute

Enough about online issues! I’m still working on meeting men in real life.

I had a brief almost meet cute Friday night. Walking up a long subway escalator after a night of jazz at Westminster Church, a man was about to pass me on the left. “Wanna race?” he asked. I quickly looked at him (age appropriate, too short but nice face), smiled, and went into high gear escalator racing. He laughed and said, “I didn’t think you would.” “I’m very competitive,” I said as I gave him a run for his money (placing first in the Olympic sport of escalator racing). Several children trailed Mr. Racer. Grandkids? His kids? You never know. And I was with friends, so the exchange ended there.

Just another almost meet cute in DC. I’ve got a million of them…. some day, one has got to fully develop.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

Dating Roundup: Tips and Tricks

 

blog woman thinking

It’s time for a dating roundup: tips to make your dating life easier.

Help yourself to some arugula blend salad with pomegranate dressing while I share my latest dating hacks and suggestions.

Set up alternate profiles (without pictures) on all of the sites you are on.

This won’t work for Facebook-based apps such as Tinder or Bumble but you will find it immensely helpful for traditional sites such as Match, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish. First of all, having an alter ego will allow you the freedom to browse any profiles you are interested in without your “target’s” knowledge. Bonus: you won’t have to pay for premium private browsing.

By the way, “private” isn’t really private on OkCupid. I’m constantly seeing fleeting glimpses of guys who think they are hidden when viewing me. Hidden is not totally hidden and, if you’re online, you will briefly see the voyeur with his screen name.

Your alter ego’s profile should be somewhat similar to your “real profile” but not so similar that one would guess it’s the same person. Change the age by a couple of years, change your height slightly, choose a different eye color (remember you won’t have a photo), and pick a nearby city within your desired geographic area.

The advantage of not creating a drastically different profile is that it will increase your chance of matching with some guys you will like. You will get some of the same matches as your real profile but will also receive some new previously unseen matches. If you’d like to contact these new guys using your real profile, just search for them by user name.

I find it interesting and curious that some men will write to my alter ego even though I don’t have a picture. There’s hope for the male population after all!

Log into your dating sites if it’s cold and rainy

It may be obvious but more guys are online when the weather outside is frightful – even if they’re watching a game while checking their dating apps.

What to say to your Tinder or Bumble match when there is zero information in their profile:  

Suggested message:

Since you didn’t have any info about yourself or your interests in your profile, I hope you won’t mind if I ask you “the elevator speech” question.  I think it’s easier than 10 back and forth texts.  If we were in an elevator and you had 20 seconds to tell me about yourself, what would you say?

How to reply to an 88-year-old man who asks you out:

Thanks for the invitation. You’ve got a great profile but I don’t think we are an age match. Good luck.

How to reply to a 20-year-old man who asks you out:

I don’t date men younger than my children.

What to do when you need new dating ideas:

Look at upcoming or past activities of Meetups even if you’re not a member (unless the group blocks viewing by non-members). You’ll find lots of good ideas from people who spend time coming up with activities. In addition to trying one of the activities on a date, consider joining one of these groups.

What it means when a Tinder or Bumble match’s location changes drastically:

When a match’s distance from you changes from 15 miles to 5500 and then back to 15, it usually means he’s a scammer operating on the other side of the world. He just hasn’t figured out how to alter his location to be consistent. Just Google: how to change your location on your phone (or on Tinder) and you’ll find a number of hacks.

Unless this location-shifting guy is really a big-time international traveler (and he might say he is), chances are he’s not legitimate.

My latest scammer on Tinder said he was in South Korea on business as a marine engineer. See my previous post on dating scams. Engineering is a favorite occupation of catfishers.   And of course, these guys often say they are widowers.

What to say (via text) to a Tinder or Bumble match you haven’t heard from in several days (unlike traditional dating sites, you can’t tell if a Tinder or Bumble match is online):

Hi,

Thought I would say good morning and ask if you’d like to continue corresponding. I’m a straight shooter and I appreciate that in return.  So my bottom line is I enjoyed getting to know you a little bit and I’d be happy to continue with a goal to meet in person.  However, if you think we are not a match, for whatever reason, please let me know and I’ll “unmatch” you on Tinder.  No hard feelings either way!

Personal note regarding this message: I sent this exact message today and I received a response within 10 minutes. Mr. M said he has been swamped at work and would like to continue getting to know me and to meet and see where “it” goes from there. Hope springs eternal!

Do you have any tips, tricks, or insights into the dating life? Let me know!

If you liked this post or past ones, become a subscriber to Dating, Sex, and Life in your 60s. This blog loves subscribers.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating!

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

A Bad Bagel on Coffee Meets Bagel

blog pix detective

Although I frequently encounter online dating scammers via email, I finally had the “pleasure” of speaking to one on the phone.

Mr. O was my first “match” or connection on Coffee Meets Bagel, a dating app I recently downloaded to my phone (for a review of other apps, see Dating Sites and Apps: A Rodeo Roundup). For those unfamiliar with this free app, it provides daters with a section for a brief profile and photo and sends you a daily match or “bagel” at noon, provided the bakers or rather matchmakers in charge find someone for you. If there are no quality bagel matches, CMB may send you some “also rans.” You can take these imperfect matches or give them away to your friends. Unfortunately, there are no options to search on your own.

From our first exchange, I was a bit suspicious of Mr. O but I found his profile and photos appealing. I decided to play along safely for a while to confirm my suspicions – or not – and flex my investigative muscles. I hoped I would be proven wrong and that Mr. O was the real deal.

Let’s have some vegetable torte while I tell you this tale.

The Mr. O interlude was a slow unveiling of some odd, unusual or inconsistent “facts” that one/I could easily overlook in a search for romance.

For example his profile claimed two bachelors degrees – one from the University of Stavenger in Norway and one from the University of Sydney. In an early email, I asked Mr. O if he was Australian given the Sydney degree. He wrote that he had taken a short course there. Despite this inconsistency, I forged ahead.

Mr. O wrote he was Hungarian and noted that people had a hard time understanding him in conversation because of his accent. When I was confused about something he wrote, he asked me to remember that English is not his first language. Of course, that’s a ready-made excuse to explain inconsistencies.

Here’s a quick round up of other troubling details, provided for your learning pleasure.

  • Despite two bachelor’s degrees (or not depending on whether the Australian stint was a class or a degree), Mr. O wrote that he had been in the gem stone business before becoming a contractor in the construction field. During one of our two phone calls he revealed he was a civil engineer. There’s nothing wrong with being an engineer but this occupation seems to be the fake job of choice of scammers. And the gem stone business is a rather exotic and unusual job that got me wondering.
  • On two occasions, Mr. O referred to his efforts to secure funding for his construction projects. A need for funds is associated with scamming. I also don’t think of civil engineers as people who do project fund raising.
  • Mr. O’s profile said he lived in Delaware and yet his cell phone number was from North Carolina. When I texted him about this, he didn’t respond but transitioned to another topic.
  • He didn’t pick up on any of my witty banter (one could argue that might only mean he is humorless) or my banter is lacking.
  • He was widowed 10 years ago and had not been intimate with anyone since his marriage. Widowed engineers are “classic” scammer types. An update on his sex life was TMI for an early get-acquainted correspondence.
  • Mr. O wrote that he was a cancer survivor. Along with being a widower, surviving great personal tragedy is another favorite story of scammers.
  • During our second phone conversation, Mr. O said he travels all over the world for his work and was planning a trip to Singapore. International travel alone is not a reason to indict someone but it falls into the common profile of a scammer, along with widowed engineers.
  • There were lots of clichés in his emails. How many times have you seen this line or a version of it?

“There is nothing finer than a woman who looks good in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and can still dress up for a formal party when the occasion calls for it.”

Before our phone conversation, I dutifully searched Mr. O’s email address and cell phone number as well as unique sections of his profile on Google and romancescam. I searched his phone number on a security ID site. I wanted to search his photos on Google image search and TinEye. However, since there is no online version of Coffee Meets Bagel, I couldn’t save his photos from a web site. So I used my iPad to take a photo of Mr. O’s profile photo on my phone and then cropped it in iPhoto – creating a searchable jpeg file. Still nothing.

During our second phone call, however, I noticed Mr. O’s Hungarian accent periodically drifting into an African one. (Quick aside: if you ever want to identify an accent, check out this website with recordings — http://www.dialectsarchive.com.)

The accent shifting fueled my determination. I had to out him. I went back to romance scam and searched several unique sentences in the emails he sent me. One of the excerpts was a match. Mr. O was a known scammer.

A eureka moment like this is more sad and frustrating than joyful. Even when you’re suspicious of someone, your heart can start to engage.

It took awhile but I’m finally an experienced dater. So here are the dichotomies. I am not only more aware of and able to detect falseness but I’m also more vulnerable. I may have a discerning eye but I’m also tired of the game and willing to overlook some details.

Scamming aside, I am more likely to consider someone who at first glance might not seem like a match. I wonder if there’s a potentially good book underneath that used, slightly tattered cover. But I’ll also make damned sure that the book isn’t plagiarized.

Postscript of safety measures taken:

I always kept my guard up with Mr. O. I did not reveal my last name and used my dating email address. After finding sections of his email on romance scams, I blocked his number on my cell phone and set up a filter so I didn’t have to see any future correspondence.

If you enjoyed this post or past ones, please subscribe to this blog. For those who like to read everything on a kindle, Dating, Sex, and Life in your 60s is now available as a kindle blog.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating!

XXXOOO

Nadia

Roller Coaster Not Dating Life: Men, learn some manners

It’s time for some updates on my strange singles week. Let’s chat and enjoy an Arugula Greek Salad.

As you may recall, when we last connected I was riding the roller coaster world of dating – or not-dating — and had ended the week with a mixed message from one man and a rejection from the other.

Mr. A, a man I had spoken to by phone, ignored an email I sent after our first phone conversation. Then, several days later and against dating protocol, he called me on a Saturday night. I didn’t recognize the number and didn’t answer the call. Mr. A is the man whose real age, according to my sleuthing, is 5 years older than his profile indicates. Mr. B came into my life via a Facebook introduction from a mutual friend. However, he messaged me to say his life is too crazy busy to consider starting something.

Here are the updates and a new dilemma. I never returned Mr. A’s Saturday night call but he messaged me the next day to say he was in Florida visiting his daughter. So I decided to reply and we had a good conversation. Mr. A said we obviously had phone chemistry and should meet after he returned from Florida. He suggested dinner on Saturday night and I said o.k., even though I don’t always agree to dinner on a first meeting – especially on a Saturday. I agreed since he would be driving quite a distance. (Note to inquiring minds: he planned to stay overnight with his sister who lives nearby).

By Saturday morning, I still had not heard from Mr. A to confirm our plans. Since I wasn’t feeling well, I texted him to say I wasn’t sure our date was solid and that regardless I was not feeling up to going out. No response. So, another “fade away” as I like to call the matches who disappear without a trace.

Now for an update on Mr. B, the Facebook friend. I had written Mr. B off after he messaged me to say he was too busy to consider starting something. My reply was “As you wish” and a comment that this is my favorite quote from The Princess Bride. Unexpectedly, the next day, Mr. B wrote back to suggest we meet for coffee when things calm down in a week.   My only thought is that my reference to The Princess Bride must have captured his imagination because he included a photo from the movie in his text. Hope sprang (yes, it’s a real word) eternal!

Then, yesterday, over a week later, I see a Facebook photo update of Mr. B taken by a woman on what is obviously a hike in the woods. So, perhaps Mr. B is already seeing someone. And given my luck lately (yes, an obnoxious reminder of the dating dry spell another one has likely bitten the dust.

Before I leave my update on the strange singles week, a new match possibility emerged that presents a problem related to Mr. A’s age contradiction.

The problem guy, Mr. C, is on OkCupid, a site that seems to be increasingly attractive to romance scammers. Mr. C’s profile says he is single, which can mean never married, divorced, widowed, or separated. However, when I ran a security check on him, I found mention of a possible former or current wife but no reference to a divorce (divorce records are often online and included in an identity service’s report).

In a phone conversation, I asked Mr. C if he was never married, separated, widowed or divorced (trying to sound neutral). He started to say, “sep….and then switched to “divorced.” Freudian slip? True indication of his status?

When I sleuthed some more, I found another dating profile of his – on Plenty of Fish (POF) — with no picture and his marital status listed as separated.

I contemplated creating a fake identity on POF – just like the scammers – so I could email Mr. C to verify his status. (Yes, you can call me determined if nothing else.) I signed up using this new identity but have not taken the time to find and load a photo.

So, while I pondered whether I had gone overboard in my sleuthing, Mr. C and I had another good phone conversation. He asked if I was ready to meet. I said yes, despite my questions about his marital status. Why? I liked him and hoped my findings could be explained – e.g., old free profile he never took down. I planned to politely ask him about his marital status in person. My thought was that, if nothing else, it would be good copy for Dating, Sex, and Life in your 60s.

Side note about an interesting phenomenon: the writing of this blog compels me to pursue various situations as a learning experience for my readers and me. I plan to write more about this – how writing a blog can empower you — in a future post.

Back to the update: The last phone call I had with Mr. C, the possibly divorced guy, was Monday night while he was driving. (Pet peeve: does anyone NOT multitask when talking on the phone?)

Five days later, on Friday night at 10:00 p.m., Mr. C sent me a text to see if I could meet for coffee the next morning. He acknowledged the last minute aspect. Ha! Plus he spelled my name wrong. And the kicker? When I checked his profile, his photo was down. The profile was still visible but no photo. I texted him back to say my dance card was filled and asked about the photo. He said he didn’t like the photo and would be putting up a new one. When? After his divorce? A profile without a photo is always suspicious.

This was too much. I don’t think I can meet him – even for the sake of good copy.   If I add up the lack of divorce confirmation in the identify report, the extra POF profile, the Freudian slip when I asked him his marital status, and the disappearing photo on OkCupid, I am left with too many negatives.

These recent interactions have prompted a big question: what do you do when you find out information about a prospect that doesn’t match his profile?

Do you ask the guy about the discrepancy before you meet and risk looking “creepy,” particularly when the information you unearthed may not be accurate? Or do you ask him about it during your first coffee date? Or do you just “fade away” like so many men do?

Has anyone experienced this situation? What did you do?

All of these interactions also illustrate the epic lack of manners that is pervasive in the dating world. It’s too easy to be rude. You can hide behind text messages, false profiles, and geography. You’re not likely to run into someone you’ve met online so you can just fade away without embarrassing in-person run-ins. I would love to hear examples of rude dating behavior. Send a comment or tweet to #rudedates.

I’m hoping scientific research can uncover ways to engage in mass brainwashing to instill good manners.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating! XXXOOO Nadia

A Curious Addiction

We have all heard of computer game addiction, social media addiction, and online dating addiction. Online dating addiction refers to people who can’t stop searching for the next best thing – someone new to date even if they have met and started dating a great match. Online dating check-in addiction is a variant that I have discovered…because I am suffering from it.

It started out innocently enough — checking my matches and my dating in-boxes while having my morning coffee. I’d follow up later that evening with a “peak time” check-in around 6 p.m. Then, it progressed to checking, browsing, and proactive emailing before bedtime.

So, that was 3 times a day — plus time spent responding to any emails received in between those time periods. I was starting to feel like a blackberry-addicted worker, but wait it gets worse.

Since I’m an early riser, I have my morning coffee pretty early – sometimes 6:30 a.m. So I reasoned that I really should check the dating sites again at 8:00 a.m. since a lot of guys might be online at that time.

Then I thought, “Well a lot of men who are still working and not retired like I am are often online at lunch time…so I should see if they are viewing me. Maybe if I reach out at this time of day, I will get some good responses.”

I now had a 5-times-a-day habit. I then progressed to hardcore addiction – checking about once an hour. I often checked from my phone or iPad and I started to get carpal tunnel syndrome and finger stiffness from too much searching and typing on mini-keyboards.

Did I appear to be “always online” to potential dates? Did it matter? Did they think I was online responding to hundreds of emails from the gorgeous guys flooding my inbox? Who knows? Doubtful anyone was tracking my viewing habits! Plus they were likely responding to hundreds of emails from gorgeous women. This irrational thinking is characteristic of someone with an addiction issue.

I was starting to feel a pronounced and almost constant craving to check the latest happenings on my sites. It was time for an intervention. However, I hadn’t told anyone about this problem, so I would have to intervene with myself. Can this be done without an element of surprise and friends and family showing up unexpectedly at my house?

Yes. It’s called willpower.

So I reached deep last weekend when I did not have a date (note that the addiction intensifies during a dating dry spell) and vowed to check only two times a day – first thing in the morning and right before bedtime. It worked! That Saturday I felt free and when I finally checked, it was so nice to see the emails and views. By letting them “pile up,” there were more to ponder and respond to. Wonderful.

But when Sunday rolled around, I felt the old craving return. I thought, “What’s the harm in looking during lunchtime?” So I did. Then I thought, “It’s Sunday mid-afternoon. Guys are thinking about the week ahead and I should see what’s happening online.” Well you know the rest of the story.

Just like a cigarette smoker often has to quit a number of times before there’s a breakthrough, I had to try again and I am happy to say that I am not checking my inbox as frequently. This may be partially due to the fact that I am fed up with the latest wave of wannabe scammers reaching out to me (see my post on online security) and I don’t even want to check! I also am trying to fill my time with other activities – the way a smoker might take up yoga or running to reduce the craving. So life goes on.

Has anyone else experienced online dating check-in addiction? I would love to know if/how you cured it.

Until next week, happy dating – or not dating!
XXXOOO
Nadia

Security Check: Tips for Safe Online Dating and Avoiding Dating Scams

As someone who watched TV detective shows in the ‘50s and ‘60s, I entertained a fantasy of being a private investigator – a female version of The Saint or the PI in Hawaiian Eye. Online dating provides me with the opportunity to finally flex my investigative muscles.

Through regular sleuthing exercises, I developed a system to reduce contact with and possibly totally avoid men who conduct online dating scams. For the purpose of this blog post, a dating scam refers to the creation of a false online identity in order to obtain money or for some other dishonorable purpose.

This system (really a series of steps) may take more time than you’d like to spend but it saves hours in emails, phone calls, and meetings with men who misrepresent themselves. Most importantly, it prevents you from getting emotionally invested in someone who is not real.

Pass the grated pecorino for today’s pasta lunch and I’ll share what I do. This is a long conversation; you may need seconds.

A Case Study: Suspicions Aroused

Coincidental to the writing of this blog post, I received a notice from OkCupid that a particular match and I liked each other. Let’s call this guy Dick (as in Tricky and all off-color puns acceptable).

As soon as I read Dick’s profile, I thought, “This guy’s a scammer.” His profile makes a good case study because the contents and approach are suspicious.

Here’s what gave me pause:

  • A writing style only an ESOL teacher could love. Excerpts:
    • “Swimming, basketball, getting my hands dirty with house work and changing car oils and also enjoy singing alone at nights.”
    • “I would love to share about my experience in my first and last relationship which ended three years ago.”
  • A job in the crude oil industry. Scammers who have reached out to me typically are engineers, or have a job in the oil industry, or are in “construction.” This is a common tactic.
  • A bizarre personal story. Most of Dick’s profile consisted of his tale about losing his first and only love. This account was unbelievable, too personal to share on a dating site, and written in what can only be described as halting English.

Below are some verbatim excerpts from the story, including typos and grammatical errors. I bolded a few red flags such as the “fact” that a 59-year-old man had only dated once, the love of Dick’s life was named “Beauty,” and Beauty was buried a few weeks after her death

  • “I have only dated once and I was deceived and cheated on by death three years ago.
  • “Her name is Beauty. We met at a friends Barbecue Party for the first time during summer at Brooklyn, New york. (Love at first sight), We started talking and began to like each other. After talking for about a week or so and also hanging out, and meeting her family. I fell in love with her and we became official lovers and I couldn’t have been happier.
  • “After a few months, I was totally and completely immerse in love with her and it was so perfect and loving
  • “One day. Beauty picked me up from work to have lunch and go get her valentine dress. everything was normal and we joke and laughed together. We drove to stop to get her valentine dress. After choosing the dress, We drove back to my office and she drove back to hers and on her way going back, she was involve in a car accident.
  •  “She was hit by a truck driver, who has an heart attack. I was called some minutes later, while I was in a Board Meeting with the company partners. I had to leave the conference room and went straight to the hospital and saw her giving up and the last words. She said was I am sorry! I could not take the pains. I had to cry my eyes out.
  • “Few weeks later, She was buried. I wept for nights and days and it took me months to move on with my life and the help of both families , therapist and Psychology.
  • “I am ready to love again”

A Case Study: Suspicions Confirmed 

Do you believe Dick’s story?

I didn’t believe it but I wanted to prove my suspicions and show you my security process. So I ran through my usual scam busters protocol: 

  • I copied Dick’s complete profile and pictures into a Word document to help with further research.
  • I saved his two pictures (right click, save picture and make sure it’s a jpeg or other picture format file).
  • I then went to Google image search and using the upload an image option, I uploaded the pictures (one at a time) so that Google could search the Internet for photo matches.
  • The Google image search didn’t turn up anything so I did an image search using another web site called TinEye. Again, nothing!
  • I was getting frustrated. I knew Dick was a phony so I went to romancescam.com. First, I searched for Dick’s photos using romancescam.com’s affiliate site scamdigger . Nothing came up so I searched for excerpts from his profile. Still nothing, nada, zilch!
  • I then searched his dating user name on romancescam.com.

The site directed me to an affiliated online identity service. The identity service pulled up one of Dick’s pictures on OkCupid and found 3 online profiles and 9 photos and videos. However, since scammers usually steal people’s photos, these profiles are probably connected to Dick’s real identity — not the fake identity he created using the name Dick and someone else’s photo. Reread this last sentence if confused.

I don’t have an account with the particular identity service affiliated with romancescam.com so I couldn’t access the additional profiles identified. I pay for two other “identity verification” services but neither one of them allow you to search by user name, which was all I had at this early stage. (Note to self – investigate other services.)

  • Finally, I used Google to search a key sentence from Dick’s profile (a tactic I should have started with but one that doesn’t always pay off): “We met at a friends Barbecue Party for the first time during summer at Brooklyn, New york.” Google directed me to Pigbusters, a group dedicated to increasing scam awareness. Pigbusters is part of a web site called You’re IT!, a scam-free social networking site.

BINGO! There was Dick’s story of love derailed by a truck driver. It was presented by a woman who referred to Dick as a scammer already listed on the Pigbusters site. The photos he sent her were different from the ones on Dick’s OkCupid profile. These guys change parts of their profiles from time to time and steal new photos. But Dick’s main story was verbatim.

Sleuth but Don’t Tell

It goes without saying that you don’t need to sleuth unless you are interested in someone (or plan to blog about him). Also, scammers are everywhere. I have identified scammers on all of the dating sites that I currently or have belonged to. A recent series by John Kelly in The Washington Post reports on a scammer who was on Match.com.

Once you find out someone is a scammer or has a false identity, there are several things you can/should do, including:

  • Stop contact with him
  • Report the man to the dating site
  • Report the man to romancescam.com or Pigbusters
  • Contact the police if you gave him money.

The romancescam.com forum rules advise people to not tell scammers they are listed on the romance scam site. They also recommend not confronting the scammer.

Here’s what romancescam.com says about not confronting a scammer:

“If you tell him you know he’s a scammer, he’ll deny it profusely to you and practice his lying skills over and over. He may not succeed in convincing you, but he’s learning all the while what works and what doesn’t. He’ll be better for his next victim. Aside from that, he’ll want to glean from you HOW you learned he was a scammer, all while he’s denying it. We don’t want him to know this.”

Women are scammers too so these rules apply to both sexes.

Ten Clues you could be in Contact with a Scammer 

Here are 10 clues that suggest the man you’re interacting with could be a scammer:

  1. His profile is poorly written (improper syntax and grammar, lots of typos, unusual phrasing)
  2. The man is a widower working in the oil or engineering industry (often internationally)
  3. He immediately wants to get off of the dating site to correspond via personal email or text
  4. He is a hot, handsome hunk – looks like a GQ model or movie star
  5. There are inconsistencies in his profile. The quick summary says he has a son but his “about me” section refers to his only child, a daughter
  6. He shares a personal tragedy or difficulty via his profile or an early email
  7. His profile contains inappropriate comments on serious situations – see profile quote of the week below
  8. He’s looking for a woman within a wide age range (40 years)
  9. He uses a lot of trite phrases: “Love is magical to me”
  10. Something tells you, “This is not right.” Trust your gut.

Top 10 Tips for Safe Online Dating:

  1. Perform a Google search of distinctive sentences or phrases from his profile
  2. Perform a Google search of his screen name (I found one man was using the same screen name on a sex oriented dating site)
  3. Save and search his photos on Google Image Search and TinEye.
  4. If an image search reveals the man’s name, follow up with a Google search of his name and check him out on social media sites such as Facebook
  5. If he has provided his phone number, do a reverse number search. Some online reverse number services are free and actually reveal the person’s name. See okcaller. Unfortunately, your number and name may be online too!
  6. Since finding the owner of a number is not always free, subscribe to a background check service that will provide a report based on a person’s name, phone number, or screen name
  7. Search the man’s photos and sections of his profile on romancescam.com and Pigbusters
  8. If nothing concrete turns up and you feel it is o.k. to meet the man (or you did not feel a need to investigate so thoroughly), make sure you have his phone number and name prior to meeting.
  9. Meet in a public place and tell a friend or relative where you are going and share the man’s name and number with your friend.
  10. Check the man’s profile for any updates right up until you get out of the car or subway.

I advise #10 because one early evening as I was headed out the door to meet a man for coffee, he removed his photo from the dating site. I turned right around and texted him to say the date was cancelled. I blocked his phone number, and reported him to the dating site. The site removed his profile a couple of days later. Unfortunately, he returned online with a revamped profile after a couple of weeks (same picture). He reached out to me as if we had never corresponded or agreed to meet. I blocked his profile.

And now, for an irregular feature of Let’s Have Lunch: The Bad Boomer Dating Profile Quote of the Week.

Here’s my find: “I’m widowed for 6 years now! One down and 1 to go.”

Send me your favorite quotes – leave a reply or Tweet using #BadBoomerDatingProfile

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