The scammers are nasty, heartless, ruthless people. They run into problems — maybe an incident on the job site, or an accident involving a teenage son. "The scammers are so experienced in what they do, because they do what they do on such a massive scale," Williams said.
But they're good at what they do." And the stories are all too often the same. "They're running the same scam with 1,000 people at the same time." If you don't pony up the cash, the con artist could use your racy photos or adult-themed conversations to extort the money from you.
For starters, plug their emails into a search engine. " Scammers can counterfeit anything from dating site profiles to photos, email addresses, even seemingly official documents. "There's no way you can verify what's on the other end of a keyboard," Williams said.
"If you're at the point where you think, 'I want to share my innermost secrets with this person,' you should meet the person within three days.
Occasionally, "truth in advertising" is more than just a pipe dream - there really are plenty of fish in the sea.
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They also weed out people who don't want a long-term relationship, or those with whom you're basically incompatible — say, people with vastly different educational backgrounds or religious beliefs. Daniel Williams with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre said most victims are over 40, fresh out of a long-term relationship and haven't dated for decades.
"They're vulnerable, trusting, emotionally fragile, and the scammers seem to pick up on that from a mile away," Williams said. We all want the same things — to love and be loved.
"It is very very difficult, if not impossible, to predict initial chemistry using variables assessed before two people meet each other," said study co-author Paul Eastwick, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
"The algorithms are not scientifically valid and are extremely unlikely to generate compatible matches." In other words, matchmaking sites simply can't account for how two people will get along in person — chemistry, if you will.