WSJ - May 4 - Many of the profiles on dating sites are scams, fake profiles people put up as a tool to trick people into giving them money. eHarmony spokesman Paul Breton says the company tries to educate members about safety, and a full-time team reviews profiles using technology and their instincts. The online dating industry says scammers represent a small fraction of all profiles. "But scammers are aggressive," says Mark Brooks, an industry consultant who has worked with Cupid and PlentyofFish. At the FBI, one Cyber Division section chief, Tim Gallagher, says most scammers operate from abroad, especially West Africa and the former Soviet republics. Brooks said: "Online-dating sites use three lines of defense against scammers. There's technology: An automated system will track how many messages a profile sends per hour, or searches for words like "wire." A security team may scan suspicious profiles. Most reputable sites encourage users to flag inappropriate behavior, including money requests." Global Personals, the British owner of U.S. sites including Texasdating.com and Theseniordatingagency.com, says it has a person—not a computer—check every photo, profile and message. Global Personals estimates it identifies about a dozen scammers a day and pulls their profiles down immediately.
"The issue of scammers is a pressing problem and has been a major source of concern for most of our clients. Without an effective screening mechanism, it would spell big trouble for expanding dating sites" says Siamak Ayani, CEO of OculusAI, a company that provides Image Moderation services to Dating Sites. He adds that his company has been developing an intelligent system to flag scammers based on their images by comparing them with known scammer images.
(Full Disclosure: Global Personals and OculusAI are clients of Courtland Brooks)