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Dating: On singles and dating sites it’s easy to fall for a scam. Here’s how to protect yourself and recognize a fake profile from a normal one.

They are called “dating sites”, ie for appointments. They are not escort or pornographic sites. They are born with the aim of putting in contact people who intend to enter into romantic or only occasional relationships. But it is easy to fall into the traps. Traps sometimes organized by the same managers of the less serious platforms; in other cases, individual users take advantage of the social network to carry out their shady “business”.

The aim is always to extort money from victims who, unaware of being at the center of a scam, are willing to make some economic sacrifices for a company. The point is, however, that this company will never arrive: it is, in fact, fake profiles that are sometimes difficult to distinguish from others.

How to recognize and defend against dating site scams? Too obvious it would be advising not to subscribe to these services. But some instincts, as we know, are not easy to quell and not all platforms are insidious.

Since boys are almost always the ones who fall into the scam, here is some useful information to know before going to the keyboard and starting chatting with “gattina32” or with “Jenny_free_and_happy”.

Dating site scams can be of different types. The most direct is that implemented by the platform manager himself. Almost all of these sites are paid. The rates are structured differently. In some cases, you pay a monthly or yearly subscription to access all the features; in other cases packets are provided based on the number of messages sent. Registration is almost always free. Right from the moment the platform acquires the user’s data, a series of messages with photos of users start asking to get in touch with the new member (usually the person in question presents himself with a fictitious name, explaining that he was hit by a photo of the victim or whatever, in an attempt to get an answer). All this to push the latter, motivated by curiosity and the interest that his profile has generated, to sign up for a subscription.

During the show Le Iene, the great business of dating platforms was revealed (in Europe alone there is talk of a turnover of 26 billion euros).

When the user thinks of contacting a girl, in reality his message arrives to an external operator, a sort of call center, to which various operators are employed (who also do not know which platform the message is coming from). The operator only has the task of responding to the user and pushing him to talk as much as possible: in this way, the more messages are sent, the more money is spent, the more the platform earns.

Unfortunately, defending against this scam is very difficult because the profiles are well thought out so that they appear real. And, then, the only selection the user can make is on the type of platform. For example, there are some (such as Tinder and Meetic) where it is more difficult to fall into the traps.

The second type of scam implemented by dating sites is that made “on their own” by some users. They create fake profiles to get in touch with those looking for a soul mate. Immediately begins a game of courtship; when the prey falls into the trap and is now “hot”, the request for money is triggered. The reasons can be of various types. Sometimes, it is the money that is needed to get to Italy from a particularly poor foreign girl. In other cases, it is money that is needed to treat a family member or to pay off a large debt.

Then there is the blackmail of the compromising video: the victim is asked for a meeting via Skype or other similar application. During the conversation, the victim is pushed to strip naked. The images are recorded. The scammer asks for a “ransom” for the deletion of the porn content, threatening the dissemination of the material among the user’s various Facebook contacts.

A fake profile usually leaves no traces on the web, it is a person who does not exist. Instead, very often, people activate accounts on various social networks. What you can do, therefore, is to check if the person you are chatting with really exists by typing their name on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Google itself. If there are one or more profiles with the same physical appearance it is likely that it is not a bluff.

Sometimes, fake profiles are built with images of real girls. To find out if it is a fake photo, just save the photo on your computer, connect to Google Images, click on the camera icon and drag the file with the offending photo onto the search band. Google will deliver to you all the sites on the web where that photo is located. You may discover that it is a famous person from a distant state or a model you have never heard of. You will then know that you have been scammed. To understand whether the identity of the known person is real or not, you can use sites such as Tineye.com, which analyze profile photos and reveal who they are connected to.

Another way to discover fake profiles is a thorough analysis of the message text. Often, scams from abroad are built with the same type of text, in an incorrect Italian, full of spelling and grammar errors.

If you still have doubts about the authenticity of the profile, you can always report it to the site or application so that it can make the necessary checks.

Don’t rely on the fact that this is a longtime contact. Sometimes, the scam lasts for months before a request for money takes place. The latter comes, in fact, when the victim’s defenses are completely lowered, and is often accompanied by reasons of extreme need due to some sudden problem.