39

First of all, it's a scam. "Is this a scam" questions on here always are. I just don't understand how the moving pieces work.

I was approached on a dating site by an attractive person. This person's profile was full of pictures and short videos, some quite recently posted, and I believe all to be the same person.

I'm USA-based and I believe the person in the pictures to be as well. I messaged with this person for awhile but their word choices, grammar, etc. are all too reminiscent of poorly written non-USA-based email scams.

The person in question offered to meet with me after I "rated their page," sending a shortened link to an adult dating site which promised a free trial of a few days and a renewing membership at a moderately high price afterward.

Of course, I'm sure the person has no intent to actually meet with me, but I'm still puzzled by the scam. I'm guessing there's some sort of partnership here, where a person supplies their pictures to someone else, who runs the account and sends the messages. But I don't understand where the payoff comes in. There would have to be enough steady income to keep both the picture supplier and the account manager happy. Are they banking on people not noticing or contesting the recurring membership fee for the adult site? Or is there a bigger gotcha down the road?

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    Did the "free" trial involve entering a valid credit card number to be charged "later" by chance? – Eric Lippert Jul 23 '18 at 22:03
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    You're assuming the real person on the photos is aware and willingly gave their photos away. Would you give some random nigerian prince free reign over your image, more likely they stole images and videos from an active instagramer. – Иво Недев Jul 24 '18 at 8:10
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    Can confirm they steal the photos. Absolutely not consensual – Joe S Jul 24 '18 at 18:00
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    Hey! Not all of them: money.stackexchange.com/questions/95847 (This definitely is though) – DividedByZero Jul 24 '18 at 23:16
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    Can also confirm they steal the photos. My wife gets lonely hearts scams occasionally, and one of the first things she does is an image search to find where they've pinched their profile pics from. – Geoffrey Brent Jul 25 '18 at 0:58
62

Seems like a fairly standard membership enrollment scheme. The person you're messaging probably has a ton of different profiles and is messaging with dozens of other people. The end goal is to get people to the other website and sign up for an account. The link they provided to you is unique so they get credits for all clicks and subsequent new accounts. Chances are, as you mentioned, the other site starts recurring charges and makes it incredibly difficult to cancel and probably banks on you not wanting to notify your CC company. They say they cancel, and then don't, or they have crazy terms in the agreement you check the box to (but didn't actually read) that says they can bill you for X number of months or some such nonsense.

Aside from that, your information will likely be sold off to anyone willing to pay for it.

For anyone else reading this because they're researching dating site and app scams, do a reverse image search of the person you're chatting with. If the photo they've shared with you is found on sites clearly not related to the person you're chatting with, then they are trying to scam you either financially or emotionally. Get out.

Reverse Image search site examples:

https://reverse.photos/

https://www.tineye.com/

https://images.google.com (click the camera icon to search by image)

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    If they're feeling more honest, they're simply counting on a certain percentage of users to not bother canceling their accounts. – Mark Jul 23 '18 at 22:17
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    @Mark or even just not cancelling until after the 1st charge. Depending on where the scammers are even a single $10 payoff/day could be a solid income. – Dan Neely Jul 24 '18 at 20:29
  • @DanNeely $10/day ($3650 per year) is plenty almost anywhere in the world to incentivize a scam. – user75362 Jul 25 '18 at 16:53
18

Off the top of my head I can see at least three ways that this interaction could be monetised;

A) The dating site may have some sort of affiliate scheme whereby the catfisher gets money for each full subscription taken out or even for confirmed leads. You click the link (which contains their unique code) and they get x amount for each sub.


B) The dating company may be using this interaction as an advertising tool. They might be paying this person directly (as an employee or via an advertising agency) to generate x quality-subscriptions a month, knowing that of those, y will turn into longer-term subscriptions. There's even a possibility that the catfisher isn't a real human, but is in fact a sophisticated bot created for the purpose of tricking you into joining the site and spending money.


C) They may simply be intending to steal your password, contact details and banking details and use them for fraud or sell them to a third-party.

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    C is a nice addition to existing answers, though this would be more likely if there were no hefty membership fee on the referred site. – Dennis Jaheruddin Jul 24 '18 at 8:54
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    @DennisJaheruddin - OP hadn't confirmed what they mean by "hefty". They might mean $5 month – Valorum Jul 24 '18 at 9:49
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    To elaborate on C, this is why you should use unique passwords for every site. If you use the same password for some garbage site that you use for your bank then that garbage site now has your bank password. – Dean MacGregor Jul 24 '18 at 15:20
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    @DeanMacGregor - Sure, but people don't. – Valorum Jul 24 '18 at 16:43
  • I don't think the dating site and the webcam site are linked, I get a lot of these messages on Playstation Network and I don't think Sony/Playstation work with that kind of sites – Jungkook Jul 25 '18 at 8:17
2

It looks more like stealing credit card details, further getting you to watch some Adult content and threatening with law suite saying some content is copyright and you have breached the rules.

Some years back this was a standard Modus operandi of a firm where they would threaten to file law suite and extort money. The victim in order to protect their identity would pay up as much as possible to make it go away rather than being shamed in public.

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