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The Truth About Online Dating Scams, Fake Personal Ads and Chat Room Bots

Updated on May 25, 2010

You answer an ad in a personal posted at Craigslist. She responds back asking that you sign up at a website to see her profile. What's the deal? Online dating scams using fake personal ads are all over the place in the world of Online Dating. There is good money in praying on innocent, lonely individuals.

There are many ways it's done and it becomes such a downer when trying to find a date online and never knowing if the person who's personal you just read and enjoyed belongs to a real person, or to some low life affiliate marketer just trying to get you to sign up for something using a fake personal ad.

As a woman, when I was doing online dating, I never encountered one of these marketing tactics using fake personal ads, or responding trying to get me to sign up for something. They are out there targeting the feminine half of the online dating population, buts its much less of an issue for women. For men however, it's seems to be a regular part of trying to meet someone new through online dating. After posting my own personal on Craigslist, many of the responses I would get mentioned that the guy didn't know if I was a real person or if I was just another fake personal ad. After getting so many e-mails mentioning this I realized this is a huge issue.

Cute Couple
Cute Couple

Why the Online Dating Scam?

So why are these online dating scams so prevalent? Obviously it's the money. But there are so many ways to make money, why are these guys spending so much time with bothering men who are just trying to find a date? Because their methods get great returns.

For every guy these scammers can get to sign up for a free membership to a dating website, they can make a few dollars. Get a guy to sign up for a paid membership somewhere, the scammer can get much more and in some cases residual earnings on the subscription renewals.

What Kind Of Tools Are In A Online Dating Scammers Tool Belt

  • E-mail Auto-Responders - These send automated messages to every e-mail that comes into the scammers inbox
  • Pictures of Girls - Easily found online and in other profiles. They steal pictures of cute but normal looking girls to get the best responses
  • Video of webcams - downloaded onto their computer are videos of girls on webcams. These are just regular girls typing and smiling. They will run these while you talk to them to make it look like your talking to a real person. They will tell you they will get naked on webcam, but that you have to sign up through a website so that they know they aren't doing a show for an underage boy.
  • fake personal ads and profiles. Completed and left alone in a variety of towns.
  • bot programs that generate automated posts in chat rooms and in Instant messages
  • Plenty of affiliate marking programs to earn money though by getting lonely guys to sign up.
  • Link Cloakers so you can't tell that the link is an affiliate link

What Online Dating Scams Do They Use?

  • Many of these online dating scammers start by posting a personal ad on craigslist or somewhere similar posing as a cute girl looking for a date. When the responses starting coming in, an auto-responder e-mails the guy back and sends a link to sign up for a dating site so that he can see this imaginary cute girl's profile.
  • Some scammers pretend to be female escorts. The guy looking for the escort is told by the scammer that he needs to do a credit card age verification before she will set up the date to verify that he is of legal age. This is also known as the craigslist age verification scam. Its one of the most popular methods being used at this time to make money off of singles. The age verification scam is used for more then just escort type ads. While many women do name and e-mail searches on Google for a little impromptu background check, age verification for dating is a bit much and not on the agenda. Be on the look out for it, nobody REAL has any legal reason to check your age.
  • In chat rooms, scammers create a profile of a cute girl. Then they wait for guys to start a private instant message. After a short talk, the cute girl tells the guy she secretly does webcam for guys and asks if he wants to see it. She tells him where to go and once he signs up at the webcam site. She's gone. The scammer got paid for the webcam site sign up.

Online Dating Can Work
Online Dating Can Work

How Do I Avoid These?

Because these online dating scams are everywhere, it's hard not to run into them. The best thing to do is just learn how to avoid them so you won't get taken in and convinced to do something by someone who is not who they say they are.

  • Don't sign up for anything. There is no reason a girl would ask you to go look at her profile on some other dating website. If she's real, she's already got direct communication with you if you are now e-mailing.
  • Real girls are not fishing for guys in chat rooms to view their webcam or their porn pictures. Real girls who do webcam or porn just do it, the traffic comes to them, they don't have to go looking for it.
  • Any girl that asks to verify your age using a credit card verification is not really a girl. Girls look for your myspace page, they try to do name searches to see if you are who you say you are. They do not ask for you to enter a credit card into a verification site to proof your age.

What's Up With Chat Room Bots

Why are there so many bots in chat rooms? Using automated programs. It is easy for a scammer to have these run automatically under many different names in many different chat rooms. Due to the shear number of posts they are able to make in chat rooms, odds are lonely guys will IM to talk. Then the automated program has a chance to share a link with the guy.

They continue to flood chat rooms because there are guys out there that will still click on the links given by the bots and earn money for the scammer. The scammer barely had to do anything to get but set the program.

Occasionally there will be a real spammer guy on the other end, he will talk to the lonely IM responder for a few minutes, enough to get him interested, then offer the link to whatever dating, porn, webcam site he is trying to get sign ups on. How automated the method is all depends on how much money the spammer has put into his methods. Sometimes there's no automation at all. Just a guy who's willing to put 10 minutes of work into trying to get a lonely guy to make him $25+.

How Do I Know She's Real?

When you first e-mail her, you won't know. The really good fake personal ads are hard to spot. You just have to take a chance, don't revel anything you aren't comfortable with anybody knowing, and hope she responds back.

Scammers are looking for quick turn around. They won't waste to much time on a mark. So if her first reply back to you doesn't have a link in it. You can pretty much determine it's a real person your talking to and not an e-mail  autoresponder. Move forward, get her phone number. The best way to know she's a real person? Call her and make a date and meet her!


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    • profile image

      Ardiana 14 months ago

      "I only seem to get responses of I really like you, and I can not wait to meet you. There is not trailer sites mentioned, and she does not ask of anything from me. She just want to say how much she enjoys my emails."


      That sounds a lot like my second Russian date. She, too kept flowing me with compliments even though I thought it was disproportionate. Eventually she asked for money to help her come over the border to Finland. I already knew she was going to say she was taking time to check with the embassy in Moscow as to how much the cost will be because that's what my first date did. When I refused to pay up front but rather only after she got here she got angry and told me I was expecting the woman to do everything for me. Hearing that hurt me and made me sad. :( I hope you will get your real life meeting but for goodness sake don't pay her anything online.

    • profile image

      mrlchamp 6 years ago

      i got wone that no one has heard of. tell me what you'd do in this situation. I found this one girl who wrote me back and she and i started emailin back and forth and when she sent me her first pic wit a paper that had my emails account name one it like "TJ lick me" me my names not tj but theodore james i just made my accounts name tj. ;) so i thought it was good. then in the next one she sent the link and gave me the whole "a girls gotta be safe bit" but it even had another different pic with her wearin a different bra holdin a card she kissed wit lipstick wit "TJ U R A Good Kisser?" written on it.

      THey sure are getting into it. I called her out on not showing her face, and since I broke my phone last week when I was drunk and couldn't call her anyways she stopped.

    • profile image

      akward2011 6 years ago

      i was on cl the other day looking for a W,, but instead i received an email from a guy saying " we can meet up and no one will find out" i replied "bye, im straight" then he replied "no one will find out not even your brother *****" he actually knew my brothers name,, i want to know how the fuck this happened, if i never posted personal info on cl,, can some one explaaiiin,, no body know about me getting in this thing,, wtf happened, does anybody know?

    • profile image

      Ericisfedup 6 years ago

      Can anyone please recommend any legit dating sites? I knew CL would be the most infected, I really just don't want to spend the majority of my time doing detective work trying to figure out if the site I'm on has just been a big waste of time. Thanks!!

    • profile image

      1988 6 years ago

      i got a scam just like this but unlike most normal people i am very good around computers and "some how" i managed to trick her into giving me a free try number and i kinda ditched her a bought some stuff is that wrong i know its stealing buy really could it be so wrong she was only gonna drain my pokets? what do you all think????

    • profile image

      Darrel Horton 6 years ago

      I have been posting ads on Craigslist for the last few

      days, and have received nothing but spam. Once before,

      I did get responses from two real people, so I thought persistence might off. Not so! Not even one real person

      has email me. Oh there was one gay, but I will not count


    • profile image

      robertbro\islin 6 years ago

      its impossible im almost about to give up hope thaat ill ever meet anyone i don't get out much all i get on these dating sites are camgirls and scammers im really distraught about this

    • profile image

      Sexy Sohbet Hatları 6 years ago

      Really great hub! I wish I knew this info when I was doing the online dating thing a few years back. Would have saved me a lot of grief!

    • profile image

      chie 6 years ago

      so its really true that money is the root of all evils. most people will do anything just to get it. i feel bad coz i don't understand why these people play on other peoples feelings. ive been trying to find a decent faithful and loving man on the cl and still trying. i hope theres really one out there. to all those scammers MAY THE GOOD LORD JESUS CHRIST BLESS YALL. don't forget the law of karma;)

    • profile image

      Dave Lucas 6 years ago

      I wonder if there are any genuine, and attractive women out there who have created profiles on dating sites, only to find that all the men are convinced they are fake (reasoning from bitter experience that they are too good to be true)and refuse to correspond with them?

      Do all dating sites that charge men a membership fee offer free membership to the female members?

      Do we have any interesting stories from any of the ladies?

    • profile image

      Mark 7 years ago

      I am fed to the teeth with all these people and scammers. Also, it doesnt' even matter if you you are the one posting and ad. Every single response you get is also fake.

      I had a real girl who gave me her phone number recently in CL, she said she can host (which I couldn't due to having too many people in the house) she said to text her. I did, she even had a myspace page that fit her email address. Only one week later, and 2 days before thanksgiving, she emails me saying she got evicicted from her house and she can't host, and asked to text her for the explination. I emailed her saying "why can't yo ujust email me the explination?" she never wrote back.

      although she did indicate a small amount of money in the beginning, I was just seeing what she wanted.

      however, every other email is

      a dating site, a website, a webcam, a russian who is in love with me even if all I say is "i like potatoes", or stuck in Africa, they are always models, and someone like that oddly has no friends or relatives that can help her.

      I would also highly encourage all to stay clear of age verification sites. They are not safe, how do you know?

      they are all http:// the start of the website should be https:// the s is indicitive of secure sites, none of these sites have them.

      I wonder why I even bother to go online anymore

    • profile image

      tsano 7 years ago

      this is so true. i fell into this trap once and this 'girl' sent me a pic of herself that was so hot and i was up for a meet in an instant. she asked for me to do the verification thing and as soon as i did, she was gone.. i never heard from her again and now i don't respond when someone mentions verification

    • profile image

      Ryan C 7 years ago

      Eric, Most email servers have spam blocking where you can block an address from sending any additional emails. Some won't blockit completely but will send it to your junk mail folder. This was an excellent post. I've used Craigs List for casual dating for about 5 or 6 years now. At first it was a lot better. Most replies were real. But it's getting worse and worse. Lately about 95% of replies are spammers and scammers. DOn't even open the link, because they get paid a small token (one person said 20 cents) per link hit. So just by clicking that link, you're helping to support these scum. Ask them to put something in the subject. Then if it's not there, delete it immediately. There are still legit folks out there but even if they were all legit you're chances of making a good connection with any one responder is probably like 20%. With all the fakes and scammers it's probably something like 1 or 2%.

    • profile image

      John 7 years ago

      I think a good way to test these folks is tell them to get onto Skype, its a free VoIP (with webcam support) client, costs nothing to do calls to folks, I think that would remedy alot of it, cause if both parties have video support they can see each other, its all in the face.

    • profile image

      Dennis Teel 7 years ago

      then there's the sites that when you DO become a member,you get messages from people claiming they saw your profile and are interested,but you find out that you have to pay a fee to reply to these messages.i've wasted my time with waaayyy to many of those kinds of sites and now i don't do dating sites at all!!

    • profile image

      Eric Bradshaw 7 years ago

      My girlfriend just saw an email from a woman i replied to 3 years ago when down south. This has cause many issues. I was wondering, since ive been getting emails from this bot for 3 years now how do i get out from under it so i don't have to keep explaining that i repleid to the ad 3 years ago not last month!

    • profile image

      Doug 7 years ago

      In order to find some truth in these sites, I put "persona ad sites are scammers" on google search. I never thought that I had just hit the ball over the fence. I have had the experience of being on this Craig List, and many other sites.I have lost count. I know that I have mailed out over 15 emails to receive not one reply. Why. "You must upgrade to receive the response" Of course, you are not told about this little trick that you are led to until the last step to be able to communicate with WHAT? Another computer program and not a real person? I had my doubts all along but I had to read it here to conferm them. I hate these basters. Preying on the emotions of another human being for their @#$%^& dollar. Is there anyway of knowing that there is an honest personal ad site out there in wonder, wonder land?

    • profile image

      Tim 7 years ago


      I have been emailing a girl off of a dating site for about a week now, and I need some input. She has responded to all my emails, but when I ask questions for personal information like favorite food or music. I only seem to get responses of I really like you, and I can not wait to meet you. There is not trailer sites mentioned, and she does not ask of anything from me. She just want to say how much she enjoys my emails. I am really having a hard time figuring out if this is real or not. I know how to keep myself safe form any further issues, and can block the email if need be. But, I want some input. Real or not what do you all think? I am going to try to arrange a meeting, but I would like to know something of her first before I do.

    • profile image

      John 7 years ago

      Today I responded to one of these. The site: is a scam. They ask for cc info; then when you hit the button, it comes back and tells you that your cc is no good for age verification. I have cancelled my cc and am having a new one issued. And, yes, Craiglist is a Scammer's Delight. As always, if it seems to be too good to be true... and Caveat Emptor!

    • profile image

      Dave 7 years ago

      Hmm. In 17 and it says so in my ad. Yet when I reply with "are you a bot?" the person says stupid stuff like glad you emailed back and write like 2 pages and send me a link, o just ignore most, but I've checked a couple out. And yes, they ALL want my non-existant credit card number.

    • profile image

      Sara 7 years ago

      Great article. I do have a question I'm hoping someone will maybe see & know the answer to.

      Is it possible to reply to a completely unrelated ad on CL that is not in personals but for instance a vehicle for sale, and your email is routed to one of these slut-bot auto reply spammer systems? Or no.

    • lovememarryme profile image

      lovememarryme 7 years ago

      Very pleasing article to read. As someone who actually found my wife on an online dating site and now run my own site I fully understand all your comments. As dating scams is a big issue I have installed various verification methods on my site so as to give members an insight into who is genuine and who's not. Will keep following your hubs as they are well written, hopefully you will look at and follow mine.

    • profile image

      dulcediente00 8 years ago

      best advice i have seen so far is have them put some kind of tagline in the subject box so they have to type what you want them to email you.

    • profile image

      Frank 8 years ago

      Since most scammers never report their verification scam income, you should report them to the IRS for tax evasion. Craigslist will give the IRS the correct name and address. And when they are arrested, you will get a small "snitch" reward.

    • profile image

      reyreycafe 8 years ago

      very helpful...They have certainly gotten more creative on these dating sites and it is so bad now that I doubt males ever really talk with a real female...

      I recently ventured onto CL, hopeful to find a casual encounter...stupidly thinking I could be lazy and meet people from my laptop...hehe...nothing beats being on the scene live...I know that now...100% of the emails and pics and responses I got were all spam. and creative spam at that..

      The one that inspired me to write on here was this woman who had been sending me emails and pictures, talking about being local to where I was, slightly generic content...never responded directly to anything I said...definitely kinda one way....but I caught wind of the scam by about day 2, and polite asked her not to email me anymore.

      ...last night I get a frantic email from her stating that her husband saw the emails we had been sending and ran home from a business trip all upset and started hitting her. She had some story about how she called the cops, and he was in thrown jail for a couple days all the while begging for me to come meet her asap...

      ...the catch was that she insisted that I get her number from some site datesafe, it was supposed to be completely secure and free or something and she'd give me directions once I called her...she geniunely sounded distraught.. hehe...

      now my first instinct was providing empathy and support, as hitting women is a real hot button with sad...but like magic, as I continued to refuse to visit other sites and go through verification, her emails stopped...

      ...and the next morning I had about 3 different emails all similar to the same I had heard from her if nothing as usual

      I type this to let others know that these scammers are extremely creative, and this woman had facebook accounts, myspace, blog accounts, so many sites with her pictures and info, and emailed me from a legitimate looking address. She even went as far as to play off my empathy and claim she was a victim of abuse and needed me to come over right away...unlimited depth to how low these ppl will go to get your CC. What's worse is once you respond once, they have got your email address so half their work is already done...

      tread w caution

    • Datingport profile image

      Datingport 8 years ago from The world is my playground.

      Excellent info on scammers!

    • profile image

      Another person 8 years ago

      It's just so painfully ironic how I can count at least 5 ads on this page to Online Dating Sites and "webcam personals".

      That pretty much just sums it up doesn't it?

    • profile image

      RetroPengo 8 years ago

      They are now using the single mom tactic. "For the safety of myself and my child" yadda yadda. Very clever, but not clever enough!

    • profile image

      MarygrauSheila 8 years ago

      You are right. There are way too many scammers. I learned from a bad experience something i would have avoided from online dating. Very good information you have here. Congratulation

    • kinleymcfadden profile image

      kinleymcfadden 8 years ago

      Really great hub! I wish I knew this info when I was doing the online dating thing a few years back. Would have saved me a lot of grief!

    • profile image

      SEEKER1971AB 8 years ago


    • profile image

      Palomoe 8 years ago

      Guys try way too hard for all this anyways.

      Wouldn't it be fun to see what would happen if they all backed off at the same time and found something else to do for a while? heheh.

      World needs less kids it in anyways.

    • profile image

      davey 8 years ago

      i have been done on a few i know not to but i ended up over £250 out of pocket before the bank refunded and stopped my card...its crazy...i have no confidence in myself and find this the best way to find someone

    • kazeemjames01 profile image

      kazeemjames01 8 years ago

      Wonderful article. U got it right. One more thing, never date someone that says he/she is in one country today, another country tomorrow, then he/she is now in Africa...most of these are tricks used by most scammers from Asia, Pakistan and even my wonderful country Nigeria. Am just trying to help out my fellow hub community. this is a great article. You can get more from my hubs. Well done sunstreeks

    • profile image

      eric b 8 years ago

      had a wink from a paying website checked it out 23yr old girl (i'm 53) in her write up was her email address - this started alarm bells, so sent an email asking if she wanted a meal & chat - the reply had a guys name keith on it and 5 pics of a pretty girl asking me to prove who i was before meeting me by clicking on link 'VERIFICATION', i didn't and won't do so as i know it will ask for cc or account details for varification, next thing would be a maxed out cc or empty account - they have been reported, just be aware.

      this is the second one i have come across 1st one was young girl in senigal saying her father a wealthy diplomat was killed she escaped to refugee camp as sole survivor she was entitled to his millions of dollars but couldn't claim it as a refugee she had found a solicitor and if i sent him my cc and account details he would take his fee and off card and get money tranferred into my account so that i could go to senegal and bring back my bride to be - did google search answer 'there are no refugee camps in senegal they are trying to scam you', they were also reported

      all you ladies seem to get is married men looking for a bit extra on the side (they seem to think us men are more gullible, which we probibly are), easy check with guys ask him for his landline number

      be lucky everyone

    • profile image

      shygram 8 years ago

      Be careful was just on website for seniors received e-mails from three people who do not exist. Actually found the one that kept writing on the internet listed as a scammer by name. The e-mail that he sent to me was the exact same e-mail that was sent to several other women.

    • profile image

      dnrkrishnan25 8 years ago

      nice informations....

    • profile image

      mnbi26 8 years ago

      Thanks for this post, almost fell for a scam just like this, couldn't find any other sites talking about this url they were using, localsguard, anywhere.

    • alantie profile image

      Nataliya 8 years ago from Simferopol

      It's not hard to detect whether the person is real or not. When you start your online conversation with a person pay attention to correspondence. If a person is real she/he will beinterested in your personality. They will want to get to know more about your likes, dislikes, hobbies, life style and so on. Fakes will try to get your e-mail or talk about themselves only

    • profile image

      mdj 8 years ago

      Oh, and the current scam seems to be to wait after exchanging pictures and 2-3 e-mails. Then send a reminder with another picture if the guy doesn't sign up. At least they're having to send 3 e-mails instead of 1. I guess that's progress of some sort...

    • profile image

      mdj 8 years ago

      I received so many e-mails off craigslist asking for age verification sites I almost began to think it was normal.

      With all the problems internet dating already has for guys (way more guys than girls, girls never pay for subscriptions, high density of obese women and single moms, etc.) this is just the icing on the cake I guess. I don't know why I even try, but seems like every 6 months or so I get on and try to find someone only to be disappointed.

    • hub4 profile image

      hub4 8 years ago

      In internet marketing, the word for this is "e-whoring".

    • paulaaquino23 profile image

      paulaaquino23 8 years ago from Manila

      Great hub sunstreaks. Online scams are going up day by day and this article can help people from getting cheated in online dating scams.

    • stricktlydating profile image

      StricktlyDating 8 years ago from Australia

      Great Hub. I've also found with Online Dating - from a woman's point of view, the best contacts I receive are on Sites where the man has to pay a little bit to contact me. Most of the 'scammers' wouldn't have the money to do it - they use the free sites to prey and spam - But when they actually have to pay to join up to the Website and initiate contact with woman they tend to be much more genuine singles looking for a date.

    • profile image

      Explorer 8 years ago

      Most of the scams i met were alegedly webcam girls trying to get of me a subscription to one of their webcam sites. after i have subcribed they were sending me another link to another webcam site to subscribe there too

      or a scam where she is a fit business woman flies all over the world. Suddenly she flies to Nigeria on a one way ticket and she doesn't have money to get back :)

    • profile image

      kahlil 8 years ago


      I am actually chatting now by yahoo with someone who claims to be a real person- she has a facebook page- the pictures look too good- and this person is everything described in this article: she found me online, sent me an email, sent me photos, then i chat with her- now for more than a week. i still chat with her- and deciphered inconsistencies in her stories-- and at the same time think that it's more probably a "he"- because this person didn't really look interested with my long emails. instead there is constant talk of not having money and convincing me to video chat.

      at the same time, i am also hooked into chatting with this person- because i now associate the pictures with the person chatting (via yahoo)- and now we exchange emails everyday for this past week- despite the fact that i mentioned not going to join any video chatting. but now i think this person's focus is convincing me to send him/her money.

      i think i should just stop and report the facebook page and yahoo email to somebody- where could i report this person?


    • profile image

      victory1234 8 years ago

      Everybody should be on the lookout 4 these scammers so that we frusrate their evil effort

    • profile image

      DatingWithSTDs 8 years ago from USA

      Great article. Another scam I have been seeing is once they get on a site, they spam an email to everyone, saying they are trying to unload a bunch of money and want your help. They say they want to send you millions of dollars, but first you have to send them money for a filing or proccess fee. This is an email scam that has been around for a long time, they just moved it to dating sites.

      People, never send money to someone you do not know.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Yes there are many dating scam out there. And we can easily trap here. Thanks for great hub. We must be aware about this.

    • gr8archer45 profile image

      gr8archer45 8 years ago from Pakistan

      Very useful hub Sunstreaks, You r right in stating that there is no surety if the person at the other end is really what he/she claims to be. It is very important to be careful on such sites as well as in the current social networking sites.