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Saturday, April 9, 2011

My Brush With an Internet Dating Scammer

I stumbled across a few forums lately dealing with international dating and among them were several topics dealing with internet dating scams, mostly started by the victims so you know that they were bitter about it. One guy even went so far as to claim all women outside of the US were a bunch of “clap-having jezebels.” Don’t really know what that means but I’m pretty sure that’s an unfair assessment. What the whole topic boiled down to was a bunch of na├»ve old men sharing depressing stories about meeting a woman online, sending her thousands of dollars (because you know, that’s a totally reasonable thing to do) and then getting dumped. Who didn’t see that coming? The stories made me remember a run-in I had with a suspicious character.


In March of last year, before my first trip to China in June, I was on AsiaFriendFinder looking for travel buddies that I could meet up with when we go to all these awesome places in the region. First of all, AFF is a terrible, god-awful website. It’s clunky, difficult to get around, and slower than all hell. And it’s crawling with scammers. Now I was looking only for platonic friends. I said as much on my profile and made it clear I was not available for dating since my relationship with Jen was getting serious. I met a few people on there who are cool to chat with and live near Guangzhou so they’re not all bad apples. But one day I got a message from this Russian girl named Larisa. We exchanged a few messages through the AFF email system before she gave me her personal email address. No red flags just yet. So she sent me some pictures and I didn’t really notice until a little later that her appearance seems to vary slightly in each one. She has blonde hair and blue eyes but her facial features changed. And after looking at each picture I reached the conclusion that they were all probably different women. But like I said, I didn’t notice until later.

I kept my letters very cordial but by letter 3 she was referring to me as “My dear James.” Kinda weird. One might just chock the affectionate tone up to her being European but it freaked me out and in every letter I sent to her, 7 in all until I caught on to her, I specifically stated I was just looking for friends. I wanted to be crystal clear about that. I don’t play the “game” and I can’t stand other people who do. I also started to notice that she never answered any of my questions. It was always her asking questions and telling me about her day. Absolutely no reference to my previous statements, even when I started to bring the hammer down on her for being weird. One of the choice things she said is “Your latest letter aroused warmth, admiration respect.” Errrrr……yeah. I imagine this kind of sweet talk makes some guys heads spin but I can’t help but squirm when I read through the old emails. It’s painful to read. She even asked for my address in the third email. Alarm bells are ringing. It only lasted about a week and a half before I kicked her to the curb. Sent her a one sentence message telling her not to bother me anymore and I wasn’t falling for whatever she was trying on me. Come to find out that her AFF profile had also been terminated for violating terms of service. No idea why but I believed it to have some kind of connection with funny business. Maybe I’m wrong but this woman really gave me the creeps. So even if she wasn’t a scammer then I still made the right decision.

In conclusion, things to watch out for to avoid a scammer:

-If the person does not refer to things you said in your previous emails be very careful. Ask questions and be sure that you recieve answers.

-Ask for photos. Make sure it's the same person.

-See each other on webcam as soon as it's comfortable for you. Seeing them as they are is an important step in validating their existence. The next step being to see them face to face.

-If they get too affectionate too quickly. Larisa was calling me 'baby' and 'dear' after 4 days. Really weird. You wouldn't like that from someone you just met at work or down the street so why tolerate it from someone on the internet?

-Don't give out your personal information until you have built up trust. Just because they give you their information don't give them yours. Never ever ever give your Social Security number or financial info. It's common sense but you would be surprised how many saps have done just that.

Just be smart and you won't end up suckered. And keep in mind that internet dating is probably going to end up being the main way couples connect in the future. It worked out for me so if you're down on your luck or looking for a change then give it a shot. Always aim high!


Travel in China,

6 comments:

  1. I like your blog. Great Article....Daniel

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  2. Why would you go to AFF for a travel buddy?

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  3. Half the people on there are looking for friends only. At the time I didn't know where else to go to find them. Craigslist? Is that a good one?

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  4. I guess they misinterpreted the sites definition of 'friend'

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  5. You were absolutely right to dump her as quickly as possible. Scams are everywhere on the internet.Your advice to never give your private information is correct. We never know who the other person is. I enjoyed reading your blog and it's great advice for young and old.

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  6. Agree with your tips, James.

    Actually it's rather surprising how easily these scammers get men on the hook.

    Fortunately, it's not a rocket-science how to tell the scammer. For them it's just a game of numbers. If not you, then someone else will fall into their trap - they just continue mailing again and again. So, most of them actually don't waste time on refining their "art of scam".

    ... by the way, don't be sure that Larisa (or even some other woman) won't write to you again.

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