Unless you have been away from keyboard for the last year, you would know that there is a growing discontent with paid chat dating sites offering contacts with widely advertised Russian brides. These sites charge for every communication, while the letters, chats, and intentions stated more often than not turn out to be compete fakes. (Usually the “brides” themselves turn out to be Ukrainian, not Russian.)
The recent story on Rolling Stone, Scammers and Spammers: Inside Online Dating’s Sex Bot Con Job, explains once again how this type of fraudulent schemes are operating.
In fact, these deceitful schemes have been attracting the attention of authorities and even class action lawsuits. The sword of Femida may be slow but it is a sword.
70,000 Sex Bots Chatting to Lonely Men
If you are a guy, you would know that getting sex for attractive women is not that hard, if they have the desire. (I am a girl and I know that for sure.) Thus, it’s rather abnormal for women to attack men with offers of love and affection on dating sites.
“Fake profiles wooing lonely hearts” — does it sound like the majority of Russian, Ukrainian PPL sites to you?
Well, this story is about other dating sites. Which, apparently, also use “initiation” by bots to jump start customers’ involvement.
On the “affairs” site for married people, Ashley Madison, which jumped to the front pages during its 2015 hack, guys were routinely lured by fakes contacting them. The hackers who called themselves The Impact Team released the internal data on users.
Bloggers who checked the leaked data alleged that there were only 12 thousand real women among 5.5 million female profiles listed, the claim that Ashley Madison denied. There were 70,000 female bots on the site, which sent millions of fake messages to clients and prospective customers.
- Tech analysts from the company called Are You Human stated that about 59% of traffic on dating sites comes from bots. Even people asking you to add them as friends on Facebook could be bots.
- Symantec’s manager Satham Narang says that the majority of matches on Tinder are also bots.
- Marc Lesnick from the online dating industry trading show iDate stated that setups where sites purposefully use bots are “pervasive”.
“It happens across the industry,” the founder of Adult Friend Finder Andrew Conru confirmed when asked about the use of bots. He is appalled by the widespread use of bots, which makes it much harder to compete for the sites that don’t use automatic software to involve users.
His opinion: “The only way to compete with fraud is you let people know it’s fraud.”
AFF believes a number of their competitors are using bots.
- AFF performs manual checks of profiles to ensure its database stays legit. Suspicious accounts are deactivated.
- AFF members are asked to confirm their profiles by supplying copies of documents and selfies with their user names.
- “Our competitors are happy to waste your time with machine generated messages and profiles they’ve created themselves”, AFF stated. “We will never use these practices on our members, and have even asked our competitors to offer their members the same promise.”
Conru says he could probably double the site’s revenue by using bots to lure users to buy. He makes it clear that developing a quality chat bot would be easy.
(I would say, Elena’s Models could potentially quadruple its income by using PPL instead of membership and making men pay for every letter, chat, and photo share, as paid chat “Russian brides” sites do.)
Durable Online Hustle
Rolling Stone’s writer David Kushner finds it phenomenal that these schemes are so long-lasting.
The lead investigator of the Federal Trade Commission Steve Baker highlighted that people still believe they would be able to notice if they were talking to a bot and that only dumb guys fall for that. What a misconception.
“You can’t tell. The people running these scams are professionals, they do this for a living,” Baker insists.
ALICE (Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity) is decades old. Chat bots can be created with ease by anyone in the know.
One of former Ashley Madison employees sued the company for $20 million citing injury earned while creating thousands of the site’s sex bots: Fake profiles designed to initiate communication.
“Ashley angels”, as the company called them, were created mostly from abandoned profiles, utilizing the photos supplied by former users. Then the bots would initiate communication with men. The estimation is that about 80% of Ashley Madison customers were contacted by “Angels”.
“So that’s how the hustle basically works: get a guy on a site for free, flood him with sexy playmates who want to chat, then make him pay for the privilege,” Kushner muses.
Does it again sound like PPL dating sites with “Russian brides”? If yes, all coincidences are unintended. The Rolling Stone’s writer is still talking about sex bots.
Lesnick from iDate believes, “Eventually the bad guys will get found out and get caught. This is fraud.”
Some of the “bad guys” come to his events, he says.
Industry insiders seem reluctant to give names and put their signature under the allegations. Just like in the Russian brides’ industry everybody knows what is going on at the “paid chat” sites and how local “agents” manage to attract the constant stream of stunning single women but won’t talk abut it, the general dating market keeps mum about sex bots that are used to lure people in. It’s hard for outsiders to decipher what is real and what is not.
The Federal Trade Commission took action against sex bots in 2014, fining JDI Dating group of sites that operated 18 domain names. The site called its bots “virtual cupids”, the practice was found deceptive.
Some sites went ahead and spelled out the use of bots in their terms of service. Flirt Crowd states that the “site includes fictitious profiles called ‘Fantasy Cupids’ (FC) operated by the site; communications with a FC profile will not result in a physical meeting.” Members who do not read the fine print are agreeing in advance that some of the profiles that they may encounter “will be fabricated”.
Other sites in the dating industry also use a similar language.
Even Ashley Madison was spelling out the use of “Ashley Angels” in their Terms of Service.
The initiators of a class action lawsuit against Ashley Madison want the rules for dating sites to be changed. Chris Russel, who is a part of the lawsuit, said that he wanted to make clear such conduct is fraudulent.
“You shouldn’t be tricking people on your site into handing over money when nobody is on the other end of it,” he stated.
My suggestion on the new rules for dating sites:
- If a profile is fake, it should be stated in red size 24 bold capitalized font on top of the picture that this profile is fabricated.
- Sex bots should be banned, unless the site is specifically for communication with artificial intelligence and makes it clear in all promotional materials.
- If the site pays commission on each communication to the originating side (as in case with PPL sites), it should be clearly stated in the same red size 24 bold capitalized font on top of the button to purchase.
Lawyers have to display their credentials in the offices and get a license. Real estate agents have to spell out the size of commissions they receive on sale and get a license.
But the multi-billion industry of online dating is allowed to run wild, while corrupting hearts of millions of lonely guys worldwide, who believe the women they are talking to are genuine.
Dating scams with fake communication, fabricated profiles, chat bots break every business and consumer protection regulation. They obtain their billion-dollar earnings by perpetrating systematic fraud against vulnerable single people who simply don’t know better. It’s time for the dating industry to have regulations, just like other businesses do.
Investigative reporter David Kushner can be contacted at: davidkushner.com.
Ukrainian Chat Bot Convinced Jury It’s a Real Person
Do you still believe that you would know if you were talking to a chat bot?
An educated, professional jury was fooled by a Ukrainian-designed chat bot that it was human. The bot was disguised as a 13-year-old boy. One reason why experts think it was possible is the language barrier: People are more forgiving of a non-native English speaker making errors in communication, thinking it’s due to language problems.
So no, you probably wouldn’t know if you were talking to a chat bot instead of a human.
Best solution? Chat with a camera on! Then you will know for sure if your chat friend is a real person and not a bot.