By Dancho Danchev
Lonely birds, beware!
Russian online dating scammers are currently spamvertising a fraudulent campaign attempting to socially engineer users into interacting with a bogus online dating service.
What’s so special about this scam? Just how vibrant is the Russian online dating fraud market segment? How can you avoid falling victim into their fraudulent schemes?
Screenshot of the spamvertised email:
Screenshot of a sample affiliate network driven landing page:
What we have here is a recent example of one of the most prolific online scams, namely, Russian dating scams. The scam orbits around on the notion that lonely Internet users will engage in emotional and financial transactions with complete strangers based on their profiles and associated photos promising love, marriage, or friendship.
The affiliate network driven fraudulent model shares revenue with network participants every time a new user registers at the site, buys a premium access to the dating network, or buys pseudo value-added items such as flowers or presents for any of the fake girls.
What’s particularly interesting about Russian dating networks, is that in order to boost their appeal to prospective users, they exclusively rely on fake and automatically created profiles of non-existent girls. Next to fake girls, customer support is usually involved in managing multiple ongoing communications between new users and the fake girls, all without the user’s knowledge.
Also, on the majority of occasions Russian dating networks offer value added services such as the ability to physically send a note and flowers to the address — private address not shared with network participants — of any of the fake girls. By doing this, they increase the conversion rates for an average network user, and attempt to earn more from his participation in the network. Are these flowers ever going to reach the address of the fake girls? Appreciate the irony here, by using a predefined set of images of successful arrival for a particular type of flowers, the affiliate networks aim to trick network users into thinking that their flowers have actually reached their destination. In reality though, they never do, with the dating scam network earning significant amounts of money in the process.
We advise users to avoid interacting with these bogus dating networks relying exclusively on fake profiles, non-existent value added services, and remind them that the monetization of emotions over the Internet could lead to one’s bankruptcy. Especially when they are fake girls involved.