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    Love in the Time of Internet: A Scam Story

    by Wesley Johnson
    Internet dating is a bit odd, right? I mean, you’re looking for love by browsing profiles that mostly consist of lies and photoshopped pictures, so, much like the oft referenced box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. The chance of getting scammed is far too high for my liking. That’s not the case with the male enhancement drug offers I get through my email, though. I’ve been taking those for several months down and have felt more compelled to help elderly ladies across the street and open doors for people.

    Are you familiar with the matchmaking website Zoosk? It’s the one that has used both T-Pain and a foul-mouthed, anthropomorphic heart in their advertisements. Several years ago, I began receiving potential dates from this particular site without having signed up for it. Perhaps I failed to uncheck a checkbox or an overzealous friend decided that it was time for me to start dating again. Who knows? My gut reaction was to delete my profile due to the aforementioned potential for being scammed; however, some of the profiles I ran across were amusing, so I decided to not leave just yet.

    A few months on the site reaffirmed my belief that online dating wasn’t for me. This belief stuck until I received a message from Janet27, an attractive twentysomething from a city in Indiana approximately 80 miles from my hometown. She was very pretty, appeared to be sane and could spell. These three things set her apart from my previous matches, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and send her a message.

    “Hi, my new friend! Today I received your first letter. I am very glad to see him on you. I have a desire to become better acquainted with you, and learn about you as much as possible. I ask you that wrote to me as much as possible letters. As I want you to ask that you sent me even one photo. I would like to see you and your appearance. I’ll send you pictures. I would love to see your picture. Hopefully in the next letter you will send me your photo. I’ll be very glad. I would love to see your picture. Hopefully in the next letter you will send me your photo. I’ll be very glad. Now I’ll tell you a little about yourself that you knew who I was.”

    What you see above is the first paragraph of her reply to me. Right away, my gut told me that Miss 27 wasn’t actually from Indiana, but I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. I sent no photos as it’d be quite some time since I’d made any glamor shots; I made a mental note to purchase a new sailor’s cap and have new ones made.

    “I was born in a small town called Salobelyak. My city in western Russia. Until now, I live in this city. Also, I’m not going somewhere else to go. My city is very beautiful, especially in winter, it’s normal. I live with my father in a 2-bedroom apartment. I have no brothers or sisters. I have one daughter in the family. It’s very painful to say, but I have no mother. He died.”

    Paragraph number two hints that she doesn’t actually live in Indiana, I think. Her abstract sentence structure makes that fact hard to determine. Despite her dishonesty, I still longed to visit her beautiful/normal city.

    “I like to play sports. Sports help me to be a healthy person. With sports, I support the figure in good shape. During the week I happen 2-3 times in the gym, I do fitness.”

    This was her attempt to let me know that she treats herself right. It’s good to happen in the gym and also do fitness. “With sports, I support the figure in good shape” should be on a motivation poster somewhere. Let’s jump down to the final paragraph. Here, her kind demeanor changes a little bit.

    “…I want you to answer them: Why did you decide to find a friend online? You is not got to find a favorite in the city? How much time you have to look for the girl on the Internet? You correspond with girls from Russia and with other girls? It is important for me to know: how old are you, what city you live, what is your name??. And I want you in detail written all about myself. Now I have to finish the first letter and with impatience will wait for a response from you. If you send me an answer that I am pleased to write you a letter to read. At some time I’ll try to tell you about myself and about life.”

    This, my friends, is what’s known on the internet as a “Russian Dating Scam.” Fake profiles are posted on various dating websites for beautiful people living in the United States. These profiles are used to lure lonely nerds like myself into online relationships. Had I not been skeptical from the get-go and let things continue, here’s what would’ve happened: Miss 27 would express interest in visiting me, I’d wire her money for airfare, and she’d have stopped talking to me. Someone actually left a comment on an old Tumblr post I made about this and asked if I sent her any money. He’d received the same message from a different name, asked if I sent her any money and wanted to compare photos. Being skeptical is a valuable attribute when surfing the internet.

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