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.“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.Numerous, ever-evolving online scams are a contemporary plague.
That’s not to say they’re the most effective; many, in fact, perform grammatical acrobatics that barely qualify as English.“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.Fake photos are usually a giveaway; when in doubt, do a reverse Google image search.Be especially wary of anyone claiming to be on a peacekeeping mission in the Middle East or North Africa.For women, be wary of profiles of men in military uniform. Be wary of anyone who contacts you and almost immediately suggests switching to a different platform, such as Whatsapp or Google Hangouts, so you can have a “better” chat. Don’t click on any links to other sites, but feel free to have a conversation (remember, they are only after your money, but can only get it if you allow them). This can provide information on peoples’ (photographs) true identities or where a photo was originally published.