Online Dating Scams and Hoaxes
Back in January of this year, we were treated to the “Dating a Banker Anonymous” hoax, courtesy of the DABA Girls and their unintentional helpers at The New York Times. A Times story that month talked about an online support group for single women dating men in the financial sector.
As the story went, “Dating a Banker Anonymous” was a blog and support group for people dating financiers and bankers who were losing their fortunes in the economic meltdown. These princesses no longer had access to financially-potent men willing to spend gaudy sums on their vacuous lives, so DABA was formed as a support service for depressed young DABA girls.
Dating a Banker Anonymous – Reaction
This caused a sensation, as you might imagine. Readers of the New York Times flooded the paper’s editors with venomous attacks on Dating a Banker Anonymous.
Next thing you know, publishers were contacting the four creators of the Dating a Banker Website and hoping to sign them to a book deal. The DABA Girls got a publicist, the ringleader (recently-married 26-year old hottie, Dawn Spinner Davis) was fired from her job because of the distraction she caused, and everyone from NYT readers to National Public Radio were crying “hoax!”.
Dating a Banker Anonymous Hoax
Of course, it turned out they were right. The Dating a Banker Anonymous website turned out to be nothing more than a blog created in January 2009 – not in September 2008. The DABA Support Group turned out to be 30 New York City women who knew one another and dated in the same social scene, but who never really got together for formal support sessions.
The stories were described by the DABA women themselves as “satirical” and “enhanced”, meaning they made up the stories from their common experiences in the New York City financial sector dating mileau.
So why talk about “Dating a Banker Anonymous” all these months later?
Well, DABA tells us something about our times and our culture, as well as the kind of falsehoods that can be perpetrated on the unsuspecting singletons out there in Internet Land. Where dating and the Internet come together, people can easily fake whole life stories to get a date or even get famous.
How To Spot An Online Dating Lie
Of course, most people with common sense knew something was fishy about the DABA women. I love the New York Times, but it’s bad when the vast majority of the readers can spot a hoax, when their own reporters seem to have a blind spot for the truth. Maybe the story of a bunch of whiny elistists falling on hard times was too much for the NYT’s reporters to pass up, but journalists should know better.
DABA was easy to spot. Unfortunately, some of the smaller and subtler lies you’ll find among the online dating crowd will be harder to spot – and harder to verify. With that in mind, here are a few tips to spotting on online dating lie.
- 1. Vague Responses – If someone you’ve met in online dating gives you a vague response, they are probably trying to evade your questions or hide the truth. These evasions don’t have to be sinister, but they are usually something telling. “Hiding the truth” might simply be to avoid embarrassment, such as the online dater who lives in Mom’s basement. But if they are being vague, they are keeping something from you that you might find important.
- 2. Inconsistent Stories – When you start to find inconsistencies in a person’s stories, this should send up immediate red flags. People who can’t keep their facts straight either are exceedingly confused and forgetful or, more likely, making up their stories.
- 3. Asking For Favors – People who meet another person online and suddenly start imposing on this person by asking for all kinds of favors either doesn’t understand interpersonal relationships or they are a “player”. It’s just odd for someone you hardly know to be requesting you to make some sacrifice on their behalf, and you should understand that for what it is. It might stroke your vanity that someone comes to you in need, but this isn’t the same as a friend or neighbor asking for help.
Types of Online Dating Scams
When I say “asking for favors”, that includes a lot of requests. Asking for money or loans is the obvious example. But asking for favors like meeting in strange places, picking them up at the airport: essentially any act that requires you to give out personal information or meet this person in private is a suspicous behavior. This person’s story might sound sad and natural and they might seem to have nowhere else to turn, but you have to understand this is an extraordinary request.
This might sound heartless, but you have to ask yourself why this person seems to have no personal friend or family member who they might go to first. They almost certainly have someone they know better and have known longer, but instead, this person is asking a complete stranger for a favor. That’s odd behavior.
It’s common for an online scammer of any type to ingratiate with a stranger, pretend to become good friends with that person in a relatively short period of time, then play that person for their personal gain. That’s called being a confidence man or “con man”, because they are getting your confidence before taking something of yours.
Online Dating Scam Artists
So keep an eye out for these things. One instance of odd behavior might be explained away. But if you continually find inconsistencies in this person’s stories, you continually get vague responses to straightforward questions and this person is continually seeming to impose on your new friendship, this person is acting very strange and is likely an online dating scammer.
Life is hard enough without dealing with scams, con games and hoaxes. In the case of the “Dating a Banker Anonymous” online dating hoax, the scam was relatively harmless, if relatively annoying. But there are internet singles dating scams that can cause you a whole lot of trouble and heartache.