March 25, 2009

Leapfrogging Around Dating Websites with Toads!

Filed under: Dating — Mim @ 8:55 pm

I have a divorced friend named Charlotte whose advice to me on the second anniversary of my divorce, was that I have to kiss a hundred frogs to find a prince. But personally, there are no frogs or princes except in fairytales, and I am leapfrogging around these online dating websites with toads!

Tonight, “DocBil from Battle Creek: Professional seeking non-professional” was checking out my online dating profile; so I in turned checked out his profile. I was totally offended by the arrogant statements in his profile that he did not want to date any professional women, which I found totally ludicrous coming from a man claiming to be a Ph.D. I resented his automatic exclusion of all college graduates as being unsuitable candidates for dating when he would be expected to date college educated women, such as myself.

DocBil’s profile stated he was interested only in “non-professional women who would be equally comfortable discussing quantum physics or worldwide wrestling.” Now try to imagine the kind of women who could do both – or worse, would even want to?!

The man was clearly a misogynist. His arrogance pushed my buttons and I sent him a polite but firm e-mail pointing out the disparaging remarks he had made were as hurtful to uneducated women as well as educated and asked him to reconsider his views.

Obviously a narcissist, this 61 year old Ph.D. vice-president of a Battle Creek, Michigan company fired back the following flaming response minutes later and then put up a mail block against me. Here is his picture and response:

DocBil

Mmmmm

Thank you for attempting to communicate with me.

You asked for this; the reason this country is so screwed up is because of creepy women like you that think you are the answer to everything. I have the right to have what I want, it is none of your business what I like or do not like. If YOU had any manners or brains, you would have not responded to exactly what I was saying, professional women are not what I want as a life partner.

YOU are a wannabe guy. I didn’t notice you in Vietnam, or all the years I was a police officer…..and in executive management I have lead small, and medium sized corporations, and have yet to see a woman who could handle anything important.

Quit living in never never land, and tell the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy you want a date, because that is as close a joke like you would come to a real man.

You are offensive, obviously demented and in severe need of therapy. OR, possibly a good step up in a job….try, “Do you want fries with this.” Oh, maybe Dr. Peter of the “Peter Principle” was speaking of you.

Don’t bother, it is blocked.

August 17, 2008

Dating Websites Invaded by Scammers from Nigeria and Ghana

Filed under: Dating — Mim @ 7:30 am

Dating websites have been invaded by scammers from Nigeria and Ghana. While eHarmony and other dating website services are bulging with new paying subscribers, what they are not telling you is the subscriptions are pouring in from western Africa. These Africans from Nigeria and Ghana are pretending to be Americans and Canadians and they have discovered the quickest way into someone’s wallet – is through the reputable dating websites.

WHOSE PICTURE IS THAT?

The photographs posted by the Africans are not their own, but rather pictures of Caucasian women and men which they have taken from the internet. Sometimes the scammers get confused and mix-up the pictures they upload to eHarmony and Yahoo Messenger. Or their profile lists one name, and they introduce themselves in an IM under an entirely different name. They tend to butcher English names leaving out some of the letters. Their online profiles have similar characteristics and their e-mails flow with flowery prose that would melt the hardest of hearts.

I know because one of them melted my tough heart after having sent me many beautiful thoughtful e-mails every morning. Then when he said his favorite writer was Shakespeare, I was thrilled. So I instantly wrote him back with one of my favorite and very famous Shakespearean quotations, and he asked what was that? I explained it was a very famous quotation from “Romeo and Juliet.” To myself I wondered, how could he not have recognized those lines if he were a fan of Shakespeare? At the time, it did not add up.

But I still wanted to believe he was real even though he had not recognized the famous lines from Shakespeare because he sent me a beautiful note about how he woke up in the morning with a smile on his face knowing he would be talking to me that day. I knew we had never spoken on the phone, but ignored that detail. I later found the exact e-mail he had sent me from an internet website filled with love quotations.

In fact, I found a copy of his entire message on the internet along with explanations for where to insert the woman’s name and a choice of endearments for the romantic message! This was accompanied by a half dozen other such messages at that website which I instantly recognized, as he had previously sent me those same messages. So my love for this stranger went down the drain as I realized I had been fooled.

The Africans’ intent is to pretend to be in love by sending flowery prose and then eventually asking for money. They know to go for the heart strings, so they have a sorrowful story about their sick child who had to go to the hospital for some emergency, combined with a roundabout explanation for why they need money to help pay for the hospital bill.

Once the American or Canadian is hooked into sending money to pay the hospital bill, the Africans refer to this as “getting a contract.” In other words, you are their contract. Then the amount of money they request starts to increase.

Another scammer claiming to be setting up a new business as a jewelry store, informed me in a series of dire e-mails that his only son had become seriously ill over the weekend and had to be hospitalized and that there was a problem with paying the hospital bill. Although at the time I believed his son had gone to the hospital, I did not send money to pay for the boy’s hospital bill. But I did become suspicious because this was now the fifth match from eHarmony with practically the same profile and the pattern was too similar to the previous matches. I wondered what was going on?

FINANCIAL LOSS

According to my online research, the average American woman has been scammed out of $5,000 before realizing there was no hospital bill for a sick boy and the man she thought she was sending money and writing to was not necessarily a man or even available, or the right age, or Caucasian or living in America or Canada, but just a con-artist from Nigeria or Ghana who could not be prosecuted under American or international laws.

Many of these women also had their credit card numbers stolen or their identities. Some of the women eventually realized they were being used as a conduit for shipping and receiving electronic merchandise bought with stolen credit card numbers. While men may also have been victimized, there was no information on their financial losses.

COULD THIS HAPPEN TO YOU?

Before presuming this could never happen to you or your friends, it is important to realize you may find yourself suddenly single as I did after 24 years of marriage. Now I was one of the 51% of Americans that was single. That instantly made me vulnerable though I did not realize it. So I signed up for eHarmony because I thought they had attractive TV commercials and I believed all the malarkey about the alleged psychologist Neil H. Warren actually having a bonafide matching system for helping single people to find a soulmate.

PROSAIC WHISPERS OF LOVE

So where do the Africans find the lovely prose which they cleverly insert into IM’s or e-mails? The answer is they go to various websites which have sentences and entire paragraphs of lovely things to write to a woman or man in perfect English. The websites encourage the readers (scammers) to copy and paste the sentences and paragraphs into their instant chats and e-mails for English speaking people. Instructions are also included to insert personalized comments as well in all the right places.

NOTIFYING EHARMONY

I’d finally had enough after eHarmony had matched me up by now with 16 men allegedly from America and Canada, having nearly identical profiles. There was only one man whose profile was written in a very literate, engaging way, and who communicated intelligently during IM’s, and who turned out to be real.

Over the course of three months, I asked each man to write to me at my Yahoo e-mail address. When I received their e-mails, I checked their e-mail headers and looked up their computer IP addresses on the internet. This information told me the originating city and country of their e-mail. With the exception of the one real man from Ohio, all 15 eHarmony matches were writing to me from Accra, Ghana and Lagos, Nigeria. I had a similar experience at another dating website where most of the individuals contacting me were from Africa but pretending to be residents of the United States.

During IM’s or e-mails, the scammers could only respond with one or two words, or would cut and paste a flowery paragraph into the conversation, even though it had no connection to the discussion. I wrote to eHarmony at various times with complaints about these African scammers, attempting to alert eHarmony to this invasion of subscriber-scammers. I mistakenly believed eHarmony would want to know about this invasion of their website by scammers, but eHarmony responded back by saying I either had to go online and file a complaint, which I had already done several times, or the mailbox I wrote back to when they e-mailed me was no longer in service.

ILLITERATE SCAMMERS

Since the scammers know very little English, they prefer to copy and paste messages into their IM’s and e-mails. This is why they were unable to answer my basic English questions, such as what is the nearest big city, or what kind of work do you do, etc. Each time I asked a question, they would type in “BRB” (be right back) and then return with a short response that contained absolutely no information. If I asked them where they worked, they would type “company” or “office.” If I asked what type of work, they would write “office” or “paperwork.” Their responses provided no information. One of the scammers during an IM wanted to impress me with his new American neighbors, so I asked for their last name, and he wrote back “Crook”!

Some of the scammers described themselves as having grown up in Southern Africa or France or England and said they had just moved to the United States or Canada. The scammers were totally unfamiliar with the geography of the United States. So when I asked them the name of the nearest big U.S. or Canadian city they claimed to live in or near, they would respond they did not know because they just moved there.

One scammer bragged in an IM that he had just landed a big contract to build a Wal-Mart store in Nigeria and he was in charge of the project which he said would mean a lot of traveling. So I asked him what city? He typed back he did not know. I asked why he did not know, and he typed back they had not told him where. Lies, Lies and more lies.

Likewise, the scammers were unfamiliar with major highways running through the big cities they claimed to live in or near. When pressed to give me the name of the big highway near his home during an IM, one scammer wrote back he drove the “Adopt a Highway” to work!

A SCAMMER’S PROFILE

The scammer’s online dating profile will have so many misspelled and chopped up phrases it will make your head spin. Their grasp of English is poor at best, and they rely on cut and pasted text from the internet to sound romantic and be persuasive.

The scammer’s occupation will be one of these below. Although you may try to engage them in discussion about their jobs, you will find they are unable to answer your simplest questions with straight answers. Here are some of the typical jobs they list for themselves in their online profiles which are often misspelled or typed using British spellings:

* bussiness owner
* contractor or build bridges,roads
* civil engineer
* computer analyst
* crude oil gas import export
* proffesional jewellery designer
* real estate developer
* self employ

Most scammers claim to have a wife that died leaving them alone to raise a child, usually a son, or that their wife ran off with a man who got her pregnant and they went to live in another country.

There is no browsing at eHarmony to find a soulmate. All subscribers, whether free or paid, are hidden from you unless eHarmony matches you up with someone. Then you can read the profile. You can initiate contact and answer pre-supplied questions and answers if you are a paid subscriber.

eHarmony gives subscribers a chance to answer an essay question about what subject they are most passionate about in life. Here are actual examples of what different scammers wrote in their eHarmony essays:

* my son he’s all i have for now.
* I am most passionate about my life,raising my job and raising my son to his level is in life since my late-wife died…
* My daughter,She the most wonderful thing ever happened to me.
* good
* I am most passionate abut my life and been able to raise my son to his level in life since late-wife died…
* i am most pasionate about my family,my life and my son.always want the best for my family.

Since scammers are writing from parts of the world under British influence, they use the word “Mum” for the American version of “Mom.” Here are the things the scammers are most thankful for at eHarmony:

* having my first kid
* winning my first contract
* my mum

* Faith with God
* My Son
* My Life

* My Son
* My Job
* My Life and Partner

* companion
* truthfull
* love

* God
* Love
* Life

* God
* son
* life

* when she care about.
* to make me feel happy.
* honest with me

* My Life
* My Son
* My Job

* my family
* my son
* my life

* I thanks God for keeping me alive
* IThanks god for making me Knowing him and served Him
* Thank God for my only Son

Here is how the scammers say they like to spend their leisure time at eHarmony in their own words:

* traveling,take a long walk with my partner,swimming.
* mallshopping
* swimming,reading,movie
* I like playing video games with my son to keep him entertaining,i like gyming to keep fit and like reading…
* swimming,.birds watching,…garden,…play games with my partner,…and go out with my family.

The scammers typically have no favorite books or movies to list because they have not read any books or seen any movies, though they are mildly familiar with Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt who have traveled to Africa. One scammer in trying to make IM conversation, mentioned his favorite book was “Treasure Island” and asked if I’d ever heard of it!

Here are examples of what scammers write in response to eHarmony’s essay question about the most influential person in their life:

* My Late Grandmother,she was so caring and raised me when i was young.i am very grateful to her.she really taught me how to pray and get closer to God.i really did everything with her,going to church,movies,golfing and hiking on the mountains of Sweden.
* Man of God
* MY PARENTS HAVE MAKING ME WHO I’M TODAY,….AND I SO MUCH CRIED WHEN I KNOW THEY LEAVE ME WHEN THEY SUPPOSE TO BE ALIVE

Scammers usually claim to be seeking a “partner” instead of specifying man or woman. This is because they do a lot of cutting and pasting of text as they write to both men and women, and using the word “partner” keeps it generic. Here are actual examples of what scammers supplied as additional information about themselves at eHarmony:

* At this time of my life,i great woman is welcome,i want a woman who will bring back the happiness i have lost for a long while.
* traveling,take a long walk with my partner,swimming.
* going out,playing games,cleaning
* I like playing video games with my son,I like biking and i like watching movies and like gardening…
* i love to read,have time with my family and then have personal timee with my partner.

Scammers prefer communicating outside of the eHarmony or other dating website’s communication area, and will insist you go immediately into a Yahoo Messenger or AIM chat area with them. Their e-mail or IM names typically reflect a romantic phrase, use words of love or contain plenty of X’s and O’s representing hugs and kisses. This is their attempt to soften you up.

It is unfortunate that dating websites are willing to accept paid subscribers from African countries where online services such as PayPal will refuse to do business with those countries due to the high volume of credit card theft and fraud.

eHarmony and the other online dating websites need to block subscriptions coming from Nigeria and Ghana. The bottom line is that fraud is fraud. eHarmony is engaging in fraud by allowing subscribers to believe they are being matched up with real people in their own cities or countries, when in fact, they are not.

Consider my own experience with eHarmony. I was a free subscriber for 6 months which meant I was unable to communicate with anyone, and that I could only read the profiles of the eHarmony matches selected for me. This was a total waste of time. Then I became a paid eHarmony subscriber for 6 months. But I did not realize my matches were not from the United States or Canada until halfway through my prepaid subscription period when I began communicating with them. This means 94% of my matches were with thieves from Nigeria and Ghana! eHarmony – you owe me a refund! 

Skeptically yours,
       Mim

December 9, 2007

My Misadventures into Online Dating

Filed under: Dating — Mim @ 11:55 pm

Where the uninitiated dater soon learns how quickly the unexpected becomes expected

After being married for 24 years and single again, I found myself venturing into the world of online dating. After all, the ads on TV for finding that wonderful new man seemed so reassuring. I knew I would not fall into any traps normally experienced by pubescent teen girls suffering from anorexia or low self-esteem, who readily agreed to meet strange men at malls or motels and leave home with these Jack the Ripper types.

I decided to enroll myself in various online dating websites just to see what would happen. Initially, I found not much happens. There are chat rooms where status seekers are stroking each other’s brains trying to one-up each other with their wit and cleverness ta ta.

Then there are the bulletin boards where people post messages for help on topics such as asking where to go to meet the opposite sex, or wanting to know if there is anything wrong with the way their online profile or pictures appear. 

The online dating sites let you specify if you are a woman seeking a man or a woman and vice versa. There are no moral blocks preventing anyone from fantasizing about any sexual persuasion, but the main thrust is for people to contact each other directly using online tools.

However, not everyone is assertive in contacting a potential mate, so there are aids for the contact-impaired, such as hot lists, flirts, e-cards, double clicks or hearts that you can send the person of interest. Some of the teasers are anonymous, so if the person does not reply back, then they never knew it came from you.

But of course, the bulk of participants at the online dating websites are free members, which means they never receive your online teaser beckoning them for a response, leaving you feeling totally undesirable.  There are also the members who refuse to upload a picture of themselves, which they claim is for privacy from their clients, or who knows, maybe to hide from their wives.

The most frequent complaint on all the dating websites is the use of outdated pictures. Many pictures being uploaded are 10 to 20 years old. Men who refuse to post pictures are best to ignore. On several occasions, I asked these men for their pictures and nearly fell out of the chair from shock when their pictures arrived by e-mail as these men were truly unattractive.

 My first online date was with a man who said he had been divorced for 14 years and a member of online dating for 12 years. This surprised me as I had not known online dating had been around that long. We met at Panera Bread for coffee after dinner, but he did not like coffee and explained why. Then he proceeded to grill me with questions like, had I considered what it would be like to have sex with a different man other than my husband?

Perhaps I did not appear as responsive to questions about sex as my coffee date had hoped, but as we were leaving, I turned to ask him if he wanted to get together again, but he was already sprinting across the parking lot to his car.  

My second online date was at a restaurant where I had agreed to meet a different man for drinks and an appetizer. He said he was excited to meet a compatible woman like myself without having to drive long distance. He explained he had never been married, but a tryst a dozen years earlier had produced a child. After an hour’s conversation, he suddenly realized he knew my ex-husband and described several unpleasant encounters with him.

He said he had not been this uncomfortable since a transvestite had propositioned him. I was uneasy with the comparison to a transvestite, and realized our date was dissolving faster than I could finish my drink. He asked that we leave and never speak of this meeting again.  

My third online date was with a doctor who wore his sorrow on his face. He and his ex-wife were never able to have children and he tried to fill the weekends with occasional visits to a night club featuring line dancing. But he found it a very lonely experience and wanted to do nothing more than move back to New York to live and work near his parents. 

Although I sent out e-cards and e-mails and asked the various online men if we could have an instant chat, most of them did not respond. Later I realized it was because they were not paying members. But oftentimes, the paid members would ignore me as well. Without exception, the men who professed to be writers, editors, or journalists in their profiles, never wrote me back, and the men who wrote the short profiles were more likely to write back and want to open communication.  

The ones who responded wanted to talk on the phone, so sometimes we did. One man from Florida had figured out in our only conversation that we could stay at his house in the winter and live in my house during the summer. He asked questions about square footage and the value of my home and as I began to feel he was really a creepy character, the phone battery went dead and mercifully ended our phone call.

Most of the men who hot listed me or sent me flirts were in their 20’s or 70’s. It seemed the men inbetween were not inclined to utilize flirts as a means of contact. I asked my girlfriend why this was so. She explained, “The flirts represent men at both ends of life . . . the young ones for what they want and the old ones for what they can’t have.”

I even received an online flirt card from a woman. At first I thought she must have made a mistake, since if I had made such a mistake, I would have retracted it or sent an apology. But out of curiosity, I read her profile. Although she listed herself as looking for a man, she had never been married and worked as a doctor in youth camp programs. She looked like a really cute tomboy with a too short haircut. I decided the flirt was probably genuine though I did not respond.

Then I met Rob online in an instant message. He had initiated contact and was really interested in knowing everything about me.  Rob from Seattle  Rob knew all the right things to say and do. We had a four hour instant message that night, where he was polite and told me about his parents in Rochester, New York. He explained he had just moved to Seattle and was living in a hotel.

Rob was the first man at a dating website that I had spoken with who had a web-cam, so he would ask me questions and I would type my answers back to him.  He was reclining on what first seemed like a sofa, then I realized he was in bed typing on a laptop.

Rob was covered with a sheet which seemed to unobtrusively slide lower as the night progressed, though he never commented on it. Finally, I logged off to go to bed, but Rob had signaled me for one more instant message. But this time, the sheet was gone as were his clothes. Rob’s heavy panting came through my computer speakers as the web-cam was now pointed directly at his groin, where he was rapidly relieving himself. 

The next week, Rob sent many apologies for the sheet accident which I ignored, as it never should have happened. But venturing into online dating is like hunting for a man in a big city. There are good areas to look in and bad areas to stay out of, but online dating can lead you more quickly into unsuspecting troublespots than you can ever imagine.

Skeptically yours,
          Mim