Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fake Profiles on Match.com

I can't tell you enough how I dislike online dating. However it seems the new "organic" way of meeting people. But when you move to a city and everyone is tired from the commuting and getting used to a new schedule you come around to find the idea of online dating appealing after all. Well, sort of.

I guess in my head I never wanted to have the story, "Oh we met online," yet I have met a lot of men online and a handful I've kept as friends. Still I occasionally sign up as I feel like I'm supposed to really put myself out there. I weed through the sea of insecure and often odd men and find a few gems where we connect and meet up. Then a month goes by, I forget the membership until the alarm comes up on my calendar for me to cancel the account.

And that's when it happens... I get a lovely email from an exceptionally interesting and handsome man and I sign up for one more month.

At first I though I was Murphy's Law when this happened as soon as I cancelled. But after a couple more times, I began to get suspicious and surfed the web. Was my profile highlighted? Maybe, but the forums that came up showed that there are a great deal of people out there thinking Match.com creates fake profiles.

I thought this all sounded a little too conspiracy-theory until I read their accounts: good-looking person that's perfect on paper and very good-looking sends them an email either right as their subscription ends or is about to end. They send their phone number and ask you to text if you're interested. Several text messages occur until one day they disappear.

This very thing happened to me and with one of particular note, Darren. Darren was a very handsome man, seemed down-to-earth, family-oriented, a couple of years older, and very into getting to know me. All things I love, of course. He sent me such a nice email and followed with his phone number. We texted and were making plans to meet up then Pow! He disappeared. His account on Match was nowhere to be found; it was like he never existed. I followed up. No reply.

I wrote this off as he met someone else, etc. etc. and then I saw these forums. I got curious and still had his email with profile pic. So I saved the pic and decided to do a reverse image search. Sure enough, a fake profile was created- this guy is not Darren from DC but rather a Lebanese guy named Ali. The care that had been put into creating that fake profile was astounding: no less than 15 pictures with friends, family, etc.

I was stunned at first but honestly, it made me feel slightly better. After all, I wasn't really rejected, I just fell for a scam. And I don't have to feel pressured into renewing my match subscription. One should note, Match.com will often block you permanently if you decide to cancel your subscription. However for the online daters I would recommend the following steps to prevent encountering a fake profile:

1) Really look at the photos: is there just one? I mean I'm lazy about putting up a lot of photos but I always have at least a few.

2) Now look at the quality of the photos. Are they candid or do they look like they were taken at a studio? So often we just look at the person that we overlook that the lighting is perfect and this might be a model shot.

3) If you really want to know, do a reverse image search. Engines such as Image Raider and TinEye search thousands of social media sites. It's a good way to see if the person is who they say they are.

This may sound like drastic measures but it's becoming very common to see fake profiles- people wanting to live vicariously through someone else, someone who may be married and living out a fantasy, or dating sites that want to look like they have more enticing members. Whatever the reason, it saves a lot of time and investment to take a few precautions to realize if these people are legit.

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