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“But the operator of the bot is collecting payments for generating downloads, without ever having to interact with the user themselves.”If someone’s going to fall for a fake profile, that’s about as innocuous a result as one can hope for.
These bots aren’t necessarily looking for love, or even for a direct cash transfer; they’re often simply trying to convince their marks to install something, like an app, in a case of direct marketing gone gross.“In some ways the target isn’t really the victim of anything other than having their time wasted, and installing a game that they don’t necessarily want,” says Winchester of these bot-based shakedowns.Then they use what the victims have on their profile pages and try to work those relationships and see which ones develop.” The subsequent investigation led by Beining resulted in the arrest of two Nigerians posing as South African diplomats who had come to the U. to collect money from the woman on behalf of Charlie, who claimed he was paid $42 million for a construction project he completed in South Africa.The woman believed she would be paying to have the money—including the repayment of her $2 million—transferred to the U. from South Africa, where Charlie was still supposedly working.That’s not to say they’re the most effective; many, in fact, perform grammatical acrobatics that barely qualify as English.It turns out that all those people parsing dating profiles for grammar above all else are protecting themselves not just from bad dates, but from bad actors.You can be anywhere in the world and victimize people,” she said.
“The perpetrators will reach out to a lot of people on various networking sites to find somebody who may be a good target.
Suddenly I had to stop doing new features and trying to acquire new users,” in order to keep up with squashing scammers.
There was no dedicated screening service at that time, Winchester says. Well, he did along with an acquaintance, Nick Tsinonis, who already had expertise using machine learning to help match dating site users based not on their expressed preference, but on behavior.
The result, Scamalytics, is a company that’s able not only to identify a number of key profile traits—in the “low hundreds,” says Winchester—but to measure how they play against one another for a more complete picture of who’s real and who’s swindling.“Features that in isolation may not give you too much information, in combination become much more powerful,” says Winchester.
“We then take the learnings from that academic exercise, and try to scale them up into a production environment that works at enormous speed.”Some of those indicators are proprietary, but a few are fairly obvious.
But most people wouldn’t blink if they saw it in a real person’s profile.