Friday, November 30, 2012


By Steve Nolan

(U.K.)  Conman Oluwamayola Ajayi, 31, preyed on four single women on popular dating website Match.com using a series of aliases and outlandish stories to fleece them of their cash.

He even sent email threats, purportedly from a captor, claiming he had been kidnapped and would be killed if a ransom was not paid.

Ajayi, who was nominated for best international act at the 2011 Gospel Music Awards under his stage name MaioJoe, was jailed for conspiracy to defraud at Snaresbrook Crown Court with Judge Sarah Paneth saying that it was clear he intended to defraud his victims 'for much more money' than he did.  He blew all the money on a luxury lifestyle, including a holiday to South Africa.Judge Paneth added: 'This was not money these women had to spare, it was money they needed back urgently. Having spent all of their money you pursued them for more by saying you would be killed if they did not pay.'

The court heard how he gained the women’s trust before persuading them to hand over their savings to fund business enterprises insisting the cash would be repaid.

His victims, who all live in America and Canada, were ‘completely taken in’ by his elaborate lies. They were left humiliated and some were financially ruined by the scam, which ran between November 2009 and August 2010.

One victim handed over more than $125,000 (now £78,662) from her late husband’s life savings and dead mother’s estate, which she had earmarked for retirement.

Another disabled woman from Nova Scotia was duped into giving Ajayi almost $38,000 (£23,913) after he pretended to be Travis David McFly, a United States Airforce pilot serving in Iraq.

Prosecutor Markus Rickard said: ‘He told a story to her about some gold bars he had found and that he wanted to get them out of Iraq so they could secure their financial future. This inevitably led to the woman having supply money via an intermediary in London, to enable the gold bars to be taken from Iraq. She was completely taken in by him and intended to spend the rest of her life with him. At one point, she arranged to meet him at an airport and waited for five hours for him, but he did not turn up. ‘This has left her flat broke and deeply embarrassed.’

Ajayi pocketed around $30,000 (£18,873) from another internet lover, leaving her in financial dire straits.

The singer also posed as a project manager in the oil and gas industry to fleece $7,000 (£4,404) from his final victim, telling her he needed the cash for expenses including a ‘Crude Oil Lifting Licence’.  He told all but one of the women that he was a white widower with children from Britain called Mark West, who was currently living in the US. Ajayi funnelled his ill-gotten gains through false bank accounts, mainly using the fictional identity of Jose Fernando Rodrigues-Guedes.

Mr Rickard added: ‘The defendant systematically and repeatedly misrepresented himself to lonely females using the internet and cheated them out of £120,000 from November 2009 until August 2010.

‘The victims of his deceptions have been left embarrassed and fearful and they have all suffered substantial financial loss or ruin.’

Ajayi was arrested last August at the home he shares with his wife in Chadwell Heath, Essex.

During interview in a prepared statement, he insisted one of his victims was the girlfriend of a friend who owed him money.  He claimed he used an account in the name of Rodrigues-Guedes as he did not have one in his own name.

The computer equipment on which police found scores of emails with money transfers, credit card details, bank statements, personal information and photographs belonged to the ‘real’ Rodrigues-Guedes, Ajayi claimed.

But Rodrigues-Guedes has never been found, prompting police to believe he is simply an identity dreamed up by Ajayi to carry out his con.  Ajayi denied conspiracy to defraud, fraud, concealing criminal property, using criminal property and two counts of possessing articles for use in frauds.  He was unanimously convicted by a jury on all counts after a trial after admitting a single count of possessing a false identity document with intent.

A spokesman for match.com today urged users to follow its safety guidelines when online dating. He said: 'Sadly the tiny minority of people who try to exploit others is not confined to dating sites or even the internet, it’s across all walks of life. We urge our members to follow the safe dating guidance we provide across our site and via email when meeting new people, whether that’s online, through friends or in a bar. Most importantly requests for money or financial assistance are not acceptable. You should never send money to anyone you meet online; just as you would never give money to someone you recently met in a pub or cafe.'

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Internet's Five SCARIEST Seducers

Dimitri the Lover is a man with a seduction manual to sell. (Men with "seduction manuals" are the new twentysomething-girl "sex columnists"!) We introduced you to him yesterday, via his awesome "If you're on any sort of medication for anxiety or depression, I'm not interested" voicemail. As the weekend is fast approaching—and because we're not afraid to be servicey—we've gone ahead and compiled a shortlist to some of the worst daters roaming the bars and streets, completely unfettered by shame.

# 1. Dimitri the Lover: We were just introduced to this gentleman yesterday via two long and self-involved voicemails that the Greek stud left to an "elegant" lady. He's "very single," has "no trouble meeting women; I mean, women approach me six or seven times a day. But I'm extremely particular about what I like." In the second, more threatening voicemail, he adds that, "I'm giving you the three o'clock deadline. If I don't hear from you by then, you lose my number—I'm erasing your number right now, so you won't be hearing back from me."

# 2. Prescott Hahn: We still barely know who the infamous "Fashion Meets Finance" "hedge-fund" dater even is. But simply attending such a themed douche-dating event gives us pause. A long pause.

# 3. Paul Janka: The creepy sexual compulsive's fetish is picking up women on the street, in the subway, or—and here lies his genius—in his apartment. (First dates typically take place here.) Unfortunately, his little games have taken a turn for the dark side and we're hoping someone brings him up on charges.

# 4. The Craiglist Cash-Waver: Aw, he's not that bad, really. We admire any man who proudly poses in over a dozen Craigslist personal-ad pics wearing shutter shades and waving a cash-fan. But then he encouraged us to mock him further in an epic phone call to our office, which was recorded for posterity.

# 5. John Fitzgerald Page: By now we're all familiar with the man who proudly carried the title "the worst person in the world;" he carried his hubristic Match.com gaffe ("6 pictures of just your head and your inability to answer a simple question lets me know one thing. You are not in shape") into fame and fortune. Well, mostly just an appearance on CNN and the Dr. Phil Show.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How to Spot an Online Fibber

How to spot an online fibber

REPOSTING THIS IN HONOR OF SELF-INVOLVED BLABBERS - CYBERPATHS: writer and historian: DOUGLAS BECKSTEAD AND NATHAN E.B. THOMAS, and self-styled right wing American pundit: JEFF DUNETZ aka Yid With Lid

(ITHACA, N.Y.) How to spot an online fibber:
They talk too much, use more pronouns about others and use more terms about the senses, such as "see," "hear" and "feel," than people telling the truth, according to a new study by Cornell University communication experts.

"Our study suggests that people who are lying to another person in a chat room or in instant messaging use approximately one-third more words, probably in their attempt to construct a more cohesive and detailed story in order to seem believable," says Jeff Hancock, assistant professor of communication in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell.

"Perhaps more important is the finding that people being lied to also change the way they talk, even though they don't explicitly know they are being lied to," says Hancock. He found that targets of lies on the Web ask more questions and also use more words than when they are being told the truth. Hancock says that this may be another reason for the extra words: targets of deception may become skeptical and ask more questions than those receiving truthful information.

The study is published in the Proceedings of the 26th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (2004). It was first presented at the 2004 annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society in Chicago.

Other studies have shown that liars use fewer words, but these studies examined deceptive monologues, not a conversation with a partner, and did not look at online communications, which, because they are written, give people more time to prepare their responses. Hancock's finding that liars use more pronouns about others ("he," "she," "they") than truthful communicators is consistent with other research and is probably liars' attempts to distance themselves from their deception and to deflect the focus.

Hancock's co-authors are Lauren E. Curry '04 (now at Fordham Law School) and Saurabh Goorha, M.S. '04 (now in Cornell's S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management), and collaborator Michael T. Woodworth at Okanagan University College, British Columbia. The researchers studied 66 people and paired them up for a conversation via an instant-messaging interface on computers. Participants were asked to discuss five assigned topics about themselves; one of each pair was randomly assigned to fabricate stories in two topics and was given examples about the kinds of lies to tell. They had five minutes to prepare.

Although more research is needed to observe deceptive face-to-face conversations to see what happens when nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, are available, Hancock says that text-based communication is becoming increasingly ubiquitous. His findings suggest that researchers might be able to develop techniques to identify online communication that appears to be deceptive.

The study was supported in part by the Department of Communication at Cornell and a federal Hatch Grant.

Related World Wide Web sites: The following sites provide additional information on this news release. Some might not be part of the Cornell University community, and Cornell has no control over their content or availability.

Jeff Hancock

(Sounds much like Ed Hicks, Dan Jacoby and Gareth Rodger, too!)

MORE: How to Nail an Online Liar

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Could You Be a Stalker's Next Victim?

By Claire O'Boyle

(U.K.) Following a shocking report into the problem of stalking, we look at how police deal with the crime and how in one woman's case, they ended years of abuse from a stranger.

stalker Pictures, Images and Photos

It's a crime that usually hits the headlines when it's linked to A-list celebs, but falling prey to a stalker is something that never crosses most of our minds.

But recent figures show it's on the rise, with a shocking 1 million British women and 900,000 men being targeted by predatory stalkers.

The biggest problem in tackling the crime, according to experts, is that stalking is simply not taken seriously enough in the UK.

Jane Harvey from the Network for Surviving Stalking (NSS) says: "Victims of stalking often try to shrug it off until it is too late, but the main problem is that the authorities don't take it seriously."

A report carried out for NSS found 77% of victims waited until they were targeted 100 times before going to the authorities.

"That's much too long," says Jane. "It's amazing what levels of abuse people will put up with - they don't identify the abuse as stalking.

"They tell themselves that if they ignore it, things will fizzle out. But if something happens or you are contacted repeatedly in a way that causes you alarm or distress, that is stalking."

Jane says around 50% of all cases are carried out by ex-partners, but in the other half of cases, victims have never had particularly close relationships with their stalkers - and many have never even met

them. "It can often be someone known through work, or a friend of a friend," explains Jane. "In other cases it could be someone you pass in the street.

"And with the internet as huge as it is, sometimes people never set eyes on their stalker."

Jane says one of the main problems is that so many of us are brought up to be polite and kind, and rather than rebuff unwanted attention, we often let it go.

"It means sometimes we find ourselves in slightly awkward situations and don't make it clear that we're unhappy," says Jane.

"For example, with repeated text messages from someone we don't know well, we might reply politely to one or two.

"Then after that we might ignore them, when perhaps the best, although not necessarily the easiest, thing to do is say you do not want any more texts." The latest figures relating to the number of victims in the UK are terrifying.

"Victims must get the help they need," says Jane. "Until you speak to someone who has been stalked, you never fully understand how terrifying it is.

"One man I've talked to is being stalked online. The stalker seems determined to wreck his life - he spreads lies about him on forums and chat sites.

"It's extremely distressing, this man is being used as a plaything for the stalker's amusement."

According to the law, if any unwanted or abusive acts happen on two occasions, you can go to the authorities.

Despite this guidance, the police came under fire in light of the report, and one senior officer even said forces have let victims down.

However, according to Jane, the police can be fantastic in some areas, while other victims are left floundering on their own. "It sounds like a cliche, but this is another postcode lottery," she says. "But at least now, the issue is on the agenda, and the good work done by some forces can roll-out across the UK."

One victim who had a positive experience with the police was mum-of-two Alexis Bowater, whose dangerous stalker Alexander Reeve was jailed for four years last April.

"I knew from the very first email this guy wasn't right," recalls Alexis, 39.

"I was working as a news anchor on a local TV station, ITV Westcountry, and these horrible emails came in. Some were so graphic and frightening I don't want to repeat what they said. I told my boss about the first one, and we told the police almost immediately."

The menacing messages, threatening rape and violence, chipped away steadily, telling a pregnant and petrified Alexis, "I'm watching you," and, "I know where you live".

"He was clever in the way he wrote the emails," says Alexis. "You couldn't tell if he really knew anything or if he was actually watching me. Not knowing was the most frightening part."

To the news presenter's relief, the messages slowed down when she went on maternity leave to have her first child.

But when she came back and went on screen, visibly pregnant for a second time, the emails resumed and were more menacing this time.

"It was worse with my second pregnancy," she recalls. "He sent obscene, horrible messages about me, and he was threatening my unborn baby. He said he hoped my baby would die."

Alexis became increasingly anxious throughout her pregnancy as fears about her stalker's intentions grew.

"I sometimes did late shifts at work and would have to drive myself home at 11pm," she says. "I remember taking detours because I thought someone was following me.

"I noticed someone tailgating me a couple of times, but I'll never know if it was him.

"People talk about this state of hyper vigilance you get into when you're being stalked, and I'm sure I was there.

"One night when I was pregnant again, my first baby woke me in the night. My husband was away for work and I went into the baby's room to comfort him. I heard a creaking on the stairs and thought: 'It's fine, I'll just get my mobile and call for help'. But my phone was in my bedroom. I'd have to pass the stairs to get it. I decided I'd crawl through a window to escape."

Luckily, Alexis didn't need to flee. There was no one in her home that night.

But police took her fears seriously and installed an alarm at the news presenter's home.

In many cases of online stalking, tracking the culprit is an enormous task. But in Alexis's case the police found a clue at an internet cafe in Chichester, West Sussex.

Unfortunately, they couldn't trace him any further, and he stopped sending emails.

Then in May last year the messages started again and officers took eight weeks to snare him. "In those weeks towards the end, I was frantic," she says. "I knew the police were closing in on him, but would it make him more angry?"

In April, after two years of harassment and threats, 25-year old Reeve was jailed and given a lifetime restraining order.

"Putting a face to it all should have meant more, but he was just a sad man. He meant nothing to me," explains Alexis.

She says the police helped her cope with the ordeal. "They were very supportive. But it's a pity if it's not that way across the country because it's a scary thing to go through. The police did a good job in my case, so hopefully other forces can follow their example."

For support and information about stalking in the U.K., visit http://nss.org.uk.


What you need to know -

  • 18% of stalking victims have been sexually assaulted
  • 12% say the stalker threatened to harm their children
  • 15% say their pets have been abused by the stalker
  • 67% of victims were spied on by their stalker
  • 40% of stalkers got details from the victim's friends
  • 27% got information from the victim's workplace or family
  • 77% of victims didn't go to the police until they'd been bothered 100 times

What to do if you're stalked -
  1. Show no emotion, regardless of how scared or angry you are. Never confront or agree to meet your stalker.
  2. Call local police to find out which officer is running the case.
  3. Tell your friends, family, neighbours and work colleagues.
  4. Keep evidence like texts, emails, letters and parcels. Record anything that could be proof and keep a diary.
  5. If you get calls from a stalker, in the U.K. use 1471 to track their number.
  6. If you're being followed, try to stay calm. If you're driving, head for the nearest police station to get help.
  7. If you ever feel in imminent danger, call 999. (or 911 in the U.S.)

Monday, November 26, 2012

IN ONLINE RELATIONSHIPS: Warning Signs to Look Out For

EOPC's comments in dark blue.
by Jennifer M. Good

If you are in, or are interested in being in, an online relationship, it is important to know what things to look out for so you don't get hurt -- physically or emotionally. The advice you'll find below is meant for you to use as a way to help protect yourself from getting hurt. The tips are mostly common sense, but sometimes when it comes to love, it's good to have it written down for reference.

Person is too secretive.This can be as simple as the person is insecure with letting out information about themselves, to the person being married or living with someone else.

Person is often flirting with other people online.
Just as in real life you can find "players" online. Watch how your online interest interacts with others. You'll learn more about them, as well as be able to spot any unusual interests.

Person wants too much information about you right away.
Unless you are 100% completely comfortable about this person, don't give away any personal information. Even then, it is a good idea to keep important information to yourself. (if they do this - they are PROFILING you, MIRRORING you and BRAINWASHING you!)

Person seems only interested in cyber or phone sex.Unless this is something you are interested in, this relationship is probably not going very far. (If they don't want to meet for lunch or dinner or spend any time with you - if they live close - ditch them. They are using you like an "online hooker".)

After trust has been established, person will only give you a pager or cell phone number, but not a home number.
This again could just be precautionary, but again, it could indicate a cheating heart. (married or involved?)
After enough time has developed, person is adamant about not meeting in person. The reason for this could range from the person hiding something about their physical self, their lifestyle, other romantic involvement's, or just protecting themselves. (excuses can range from "I don't think I can control myself with you" to "I don't go out/ have time" to "I don't think its a good idea")
Person wants you to move to local area or in with them after only one or two meetings, or less than one year.
While my husband and I broke this rule, I strongly urge other couples to really get to know each other in person. It worked out well for me, but if follow this advice you will find yourself more confident about your choices if you really take the time to know them in person before deciding to make the big traveling step.

You find the person posting other personal ads online.
An obvious heartbreak! (especially if they are posting at BangMatch.com or Eroticy.com, etc.... sex partner sites, while trying to lure YOU into and keep you in an EMOTIONAL relationship online so they can use & manipulate you further)

Person keeps e-mails from other people hidden or a secret.

Something to keep an eye out for. Any relationship that begins or is involved in secrecy has it's days numbered. (OR...... they tell you not to talk to so & so online and you later find they told the other person not to talk to YOU either!! and give each of you bogus reasons to no longer talk. If THAT happens MAKE IT YOUR BUSINESS TO CONTACT THE OTHER PERSON IMMEDIATELY!)
Person asks for money or other help or even suggests they are broke.

You may feel comfortable with this, but it's not a good idea, especially if your just met them. Don't open yourself to a potentially huge loss.
Person won't let you mail cards or other gifts to home address.

This is also another sign of a possible romantic interest living with them. Take the extra precautions to make sure your online interest is not already involved with someone. (they won't even GIVE you a home address! Run!)

Every tip is dependent upon your instincts. What is good for one person may not be good for the next. Use your head, and your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, question it and resolve it quickly. You may discover it was a case of doubt, but you may also discover it wasn't!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Divorced Accountant Scammed by Online Dating Sites

by Antonia Hoyle

After her marriage broke down, Jenny Beard knew finding love again wouldn’t be easy. Not only was she 42 and the sole carer of her six-year-old son Will, but her demanding career as an accountant left her with precious little time to socialise.

Nonetheless, she didn’t want to be alone forever, so when she heard about an internet dating site for single parents like herself, she joined without a second thought, Jenny told Channel 4 News in a programme.

Describing her interests as ‘going to the theatre and restaurants, enjoying country walks as long as they feature a tea shop’, she was hopeful she would meet mature, like-minded men who understood the difficulties of bringing up a child alone.

What she didn’t expect was to find herself posted as a ‘hot date’ on cheesy lads’ magazine sites, and bombarded by spam emails from people who didn’t even exist — or if they did, had anything but a country walk in mind. Jenny Beard was shocked to find her pictures, submitted to a singe-parents dating site, on sleazy lads¿ mag sites

Jenny Beard was shocked to find her pictures, submitted to a singe-parents dating site, on sleazy lads' mag site. Over the course of the four years Jenny has been on the site, not one of the men she met has been a member of justsingleparents.com where she originally posted her profile. Not one of them had even heard of it. Alarmingly, half were not parents at all and only one had a child the same age as her son.

Worse still, her picture and profile have been plastered across tawdry dating websites belonging to ‘lads mags’ such as Nuts and Loaded that are more associated with scantily-clad girls in semi-pornographic poses than professional, middle-aged women like Jenny.

She is just one victim in an extraordinary dating scam exposed by two industry whistle-blowers.

Unbeknown to Jenny, justsingleparents.com is run by a parent company called Global Personals — a legitimate company most members never will have heard of, but which passes members’ details freely between the 7,500 sites it owns, meaning they are inundated with unwanted and inappropriate advances.

The company has also created ‘fake’ profiles, by lifting photographs off the internet, and ordering staff to flirt with unsuspecting members, outrageously flattering them into renewing their subscriptions.

Disturbingly, their deception has proved an unqualified success. Global Personals — whose headquarters are in Windsor, Berkshire — makes £40 m a year, employs 130 staff and is believed to take a 40 per cent cut of every membership subscription, with the remainder going to the spin-off company.

But it is at the expense of women like Jenny, now 46, who is astounded by the way in which she has been duped.

‘Internet dating seemed the best way of meeting people,’ she says. ‘But I’m shocked by how many sites I’ve ended up on. It’s upsetting and annoying. I’m nobody’s idea of a Nuts hot date. It’s the last place you would expect to find me and a waste of time and money. I’m not surprised they’re making up people. I’ve received no end of emails from men who say they like my smile, but clearly haven’t seen my profile. I won’t be renewing my subscription.’

Certainly, Jenny’s experience serves as a cautionary tale to those tempted by the increasingly popular world of online romance, said to be worth £2 billion globally. She first started internet dating in September 2008, eight months after her seven-year marriage ended.

‘I have a serious job. My options for meeting men are limited,’ she says. ‘This seemed the best way.’

She began by joining a site called Plenty of Fish, but, within weeks she realised it was unsuitable.‘It’s hard to say without sounding snobby but I’m a professional person with a degree,’ she explains. ‘It was very good for meeting dustmen, builders and mechanics who are perfectly nice but not right for me. Apart from anything else, it’s free and attracts people with less money. I thought finding a paid service would be more appropriate.’

So she researched online and came across justsingleparents.com. With membership costing £20 a month and members all purportedly having experienced single parenthood, she was more likely to meet like-minded people, she reasoned.

‘I wanted to meet people with children because they understand that anyone else in my life won’t be my top priority,’ she says.

Her son Will, who’s now ten, also was keen to see his mum with someone nice ‘to look after her’

But what Jenny didn’t realise was that when she joined justsingleparents.com that she would be exposed on websites she’d previously never heard of.

Worryingly, the practice, while misleading, is perfectly legal. It is called ‘white-labelling’ and happens when a product produced by one company, such as Global Personals, is rebranded by other companies — in this case dating websites.

Who knew? Internet dating amongst those aged 50-plus has risen by 40 per cent in the last year

Also, in a bid to boost their revenue, the company was specifically employing staff whose sole job it was to set up and run fake profiles on the dating sites, to keep members interested. Within weeks, Jenny got her first warning signal: She’d begun emailing a fellow single parent from her area and the pair had swapped phone numbers:

‘I texted him and said “it’s Jenny from Just Single Parents” and he replied “what?”’ she recalls. ‘He’d never heard of the agency. I was put on the back foot and so flummoxed I didn’t contact him again.’ It was another member, Jenny recalls, who explained that their details were passed around various dating sites: ‘I felt put out and rather stupid,’ she says.

Nonetheless, as the months passed, she was sent three emails a day from unlikely suitors, who ranged in age from 22 to 73. ‘I deleted them before reading,’ she says. ‘I can’t remember any being particularly crude, but maybe they were and I never saw them.’  Jenny says she quickly suspected some of the identities were fake. ‘I know I got emails that weren’t from real people,’ she told Channel 4 News. ‘You’d ask a man a question, such as how many children he had, and would get a reply tell you how happy they are they’ve met you.’

She adds: ‘You don’t realise to start with that these companies they have “ice breaker” messages saying “I like your profile” or “you’ve got a lovely smile” that are sent to all the women in East Sussex between the ages of 35 and 55. You’d reply and wouldn’t hear back. After a while you realise a lot of the messages you get are sent to hundreds of people, not just you.’

Yet Jenny — fuelled by hope that she would meet someone genuine — carried on using the site. At times, however, she became so exasperated with the process that she cancelled her membership.

‘Cancelling was a faff — you couldn’t do it online and would have to call someone in working hours,’ says Jenny, who spent hundreds of pounds on subscription fees.  ‘I remember one email I got that persuaded me to re-join was from a good-looking, wealthy single father who ran his own building business,’ says Jenny. ‘Part of me suspected it was too good to be true, but I replied anyway.’ And, surprise surprise, she never heard back.

Over the course of four years, she met up with just eight men in person. Not one of them was from justsingleparents.com, half didn’t have children at all.

‘I only met most of them once, for a drink,’ she says. ‘One, a store manager, had joined a website called Old Flirt. He was my age but, had I known the site he was on, I would have hauled him out on the grounds that it was a ridiculous name. ‘Another was a bus driver. There were two retired people. They came from geographical and rock music dating sites. One came from a site called Derbyshire Singles. One didn’t even know I had a son, which was the whole point. It made me think my profile might have been edited. I was perplexed.’

As Jenny had suspected, she was not the only one being duped — and not the most vulnerable.

Channel 4 News investigators spoke to whistle-blower Ryan Pitcher, who joined the company in 2008 and a second, unnamed, employee, who detailed the suspicious way in which they were recruited, when they were warned they were not to discuss their duties with family and friends.

Finding fake profiles was a secretive and calculated process, with the team scouring social networking sites and stealing people’s photos to use on their fake profiles: ‘You’d take Helga from Iceland and make her into Helen from Manchester and write a profile,’ says Ryan. ‘You’d use her features and invent a whole new person.’

The role of the fake profiles — or ‘pseudos’ as they were called by employees — was to email members flirtatious messages to entice them into continuing their subscriptions. Up to 400 messages an hour were sent by the team who frequently coerced their victims into intimate text conversations.  ‘You’re talking about thousands of messages which means millions of pounds in subscription fees,’ says Ryan. It seems they were targeted specifically at the sites’ most vulnerable members.

‘A lot of the people on the site aren’t the most attractive people,’ he admits. ‘If they’re not getting replies from real people after a month, they’re going to sign off. The pseudo team could string along a girl or guy for up to 24 months. It is all about money, all about greed. With fake profiles you can get 50 per cent more revenue, sometimes even more.’

If the member wanted to pursue a relationship with a pseudo, or even have a telephone conversation, they would be brushed off before being replaced by another pseudo.  ‘It’s all about stringing them along on tenterhooks with that pretence that eventually they’ll meet up or swap telephone numbers,’ says Ryan.  ‘But as soon as that comes into play you move on. There were loads of cop-outs you could use. Most people were talking to more than one pseudo. Some people were only talking to fake people.’

All of which is incredibly unpalatable. Ryan admits the deception started to trouble his conscience:

‘After a while you’d see the same old men and women; widows, for example, who wanted to find love. You’re just stringing them along to get money out of their pensions. That did play on my mind.’

Meanwhile, his bosses grew richer and ever omnipresent in the dating industry. They have a database of 2.2 million people — every one of whom is believed to be accessible across its network of sites.

It is the sheer variety of websites Jenny has been made available to that shocked her the most when Channel 4 contacted her a fortnight ago to tell her their findings — and which finally persuaded her to cancel her subscription.

A spokesman for Global Personals told the Mail: ‘When members subscribe to one of our sites, they are advised in the terms and conditions that their details will be made available to members of different sites on the relevant shared database.  ‘Our job is to get our members in front of as many other members as possible. Members on any of these sites can apply filters to ensure they are not contacted by anyone they don’t want to be. Global Personals was one of the first online dating companies to stop using pseudo profiles. ’

But Jenny doesn’t believe sufficient warning was given. ‘It should be made a lot clearer how many sites you’re getting in to,’ she says. ‘It’s upsetting and annoying that you don’t know where your picture is going to end up. Clearly someone who is reading Nuts is not going to be interested in me, just as I am not going to be interested in them. You should be able to opt out.’

Trading Standards in Windsor say they have ‘on-going dealings’ with Global Personals regarding their alleged use of fake profiles. Yet the company remains unrepentant.

They told the Mail: ‘Global Personals was one of the first online dating companies to stop using pseudo profiles. Global Personals scaled down pseudo profiling throughout 2009 and all pseudo profiles were removed by February 2010.’

For Jenny, it is too little too late. Still single, she has cancelled her subscription with justsingleparents.com and will be more cautious about internet dating in future.

‘You’ve got to be emotionally strong as you’re set up for an enormous amount of disappointment,’ she says, adding: ‘I don’t know how I’ll meet a man. The odds are stacked against it.’ 

Click here to learn more about the Class Action against Match.com

Saturday, November 24, 2012

You've Got H@TE MAIL!

ciberdelito Pictures, Images and Photos

Remember the time when new netizens were discovering the joys of e-mail and chat? When we watched Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail log on and send messages to Tom Hanks. That was cool, way back in 1998, when that film was released. It explored the concept of what happens when the virtual world and the real world intersect at some point.

All that is old hat now. We send emails, we chat, we message, we scrap, we follow each other on Twitter, we scribble on Facebook's wall. We have SecondLife. The possibilities are endless. Your gmail inbox could be an excellent pointer. "Where are you now? I'd like to add you to my travel network”, says one mail. “XXX added you as a friend on Facebook” says another. There are join-us requests from at least three other social networking sites. And then, some blog comments that you have to moderate. So, cleaning the inbox could well take up an hour or two of your working day. All thanks to social networking. We live in an over-connected world, you see. Everyone's connected to everyone else and their cousin, thrice removed.

So, what's wrong with being connected? Nothing, except that we tend to lose perspective on who's a friend, who's not, and how much of our emotional investment needs to go into all this. Benign, harmless scraps, blog comments and messages are still tolerable. All you need to do is hit the delete button. But then, what about hate? What about those comments that hurt? What happens if there’s a sensitive person on the other end, who takes the hate personally?

Out of sheer curiosity, I log on to my Orkut account, and check out the hate communities. There are harmless "I hate to wake up early" to "I hate rain"communities. Soon, it turns ugly. And scary, if one may add. Take "Kill me, I'm fed up of my life" It had a whopping 3,000 members when one last checked. There's “Guns n Guts”, there's “I hurt myself; so you can't” with 7,000 members.

A web of distrust
One of the communities even suggests various methods to commit suicide. This community has a whopping 2,000 members at last count. Isn't this hate reflective of society itself? Surely, something's gone wrong somewhere.

According to psychologist Sonali Nag of the Promise Foundation, "Hate is a fundamental human emotion. As most other emotions, it is neither negative nor positive. It could be generated in response to something strongly repugnant to oneself and one's values. It could also be born from a sense of inadequacy. Both forms are seen on the Internet. It provides a screen to one's identity and offers a medium to express emotions with lower levels of restraint. ‘Snarking’ is an example of using the anonymity that the Internet provides to be snide and unrestrained in one's responses to someone else's postings. I would suspect that if one examined the personality of a 'snarker', one would find a sad, unfulfilled and frustrated person hiding behind his or her snarks."

There are hate communities directed at individuals and some very respected personalities at that. And then, countries. There was legal trouble when a ‘We hate India’ community was set up on a social networking site.

Omar Abdullah’s ‘alvida’
Social networking was also held responsible for the death of 16-year-old Adnan Patrawala from Mumbai, who was kidnapped and murdered by his Orkut friends. While social networking sites and blogs are excellent platforms for celebrities like an Aamir Khan or an Amitabh Bachchan to put across their points of view, they also make them vulnerable to hate comments.

You only have to check out Ram Gopal Varma's blog to see the kind of comments his posts elicit. But RGV blogs on, undeterred, responding to his readers sharply. But, then, it could get very serious.

Take the case of politician Omar Abdullah, who used the blog http://jknc.org/blog/ to air his views on Kashmir. He started his blog in mid-April, but by August, the comments and the hate got to him. His last post, titled 'Alvida' says it all. Sample this:

"Last night as I finished my last post I realised that I was filled with dread at the heap of personal abuse I was expecting when I logged on this morning and I was not wrong. We truly are a bunch of intolerant people. We want to be heard but do not have the strength to hear, we want to have an opinion but do not believe anyone else is entitled to one. So after almost 42 posts from me and more than 900 comments from all of you I am signing off and I will not be coming back."

Faceless dread
A clear case of cyber harassment. The nature of the Internet, as it is evident now, is that it is an open, free world, where everyone has the right to vent their views, or form communities without much social responsibility. The very fact that the bully is a faceless, unknown person, adds to the helplessness of the victim. Terror too, has spread its scary shadows on the Internet. Terror mails are sent from random IP addresses. As recently as September 2008, newspapers reported that a community called 'Indian Mujahideen' was banned from a social networking site, following the blasts in Delhi.

A presentation on 'Tracking terrorists in cyber space' made by J Prasanna, an Information Security Consultant, at a seminar organised by Digital Society Foundation of India, in Bangalore, acknowledges that most terrorists and spies indeed use the Internet. They use the Internet to leave a message on a website like orkut, Linkedin or a matrimonial website that looks normal. Only they understand where to look and what to read and it's difficult for others to find out. This is called a covert channel. Also, terrorists use anonymous proxy (with encryption) to transmit messages.

So, do we regulate the internet?

According to Na Vijayshankar, cyber law campaigner, the police are supposed to monitor any anti-social activities in society and can take action on their own. Vijayshankar, who is also the Chairman of the Digital Society Foundation of India, says the organisation proposes to act as a vigilante unit. He points out that his organisation even filed a PIL in connection with denigration of Gandhi on You Tube. "I personally try to keep the police informed. I strongly feel the police should maintain contact with voluntary organisations to act as cyber informers."

But does this not infringe upon freedom of expression and privacy? Agrees Na Vijayshankar, "It is a fact that sometimes privacy interests conflict with law enforcement."

However, Naavi cites a India Supreme Court judgment, which says “that the person’s ‘right to be let alone’ is not an absolute right and may be lawfully restricted for the prevention of crime, disorder or protection of health or morals or protection of rights and freedom of others.”

During the seminar on Privacy Rights and Data Protection in Cyber Space, he expressed the need for balancing the Privacy and Data Protection legislation with law enforcement and suggested that the forum would collect the opinion of experts and forward it to the government for necessary action when the Personal Data Protection Bill 2006 and ITA Amendment Act Bill would be taken up for discussion in the Parliamentary session.
“What the ITA 2000 fails to protect are cases such as 'cyber stalking' where privacy intrusion through e-mails or SMS messages creates problems for individuals. If such messages can be brought under "Obscenity" then it may be covered under Section 67 of ITA 2000. If it is indecent or threatening, it may be brought under IPC. This is essentially the protection that is available,” he points out in his presentation.

However, there is the issue of what constitutes privacy rights. When the police on a crime trail end up on a social networking site , there are commercial interests that try to block the police from accessing information which may be vital to solving the crime. Often the defense put up by the sites is that the information is protected by the ‘Privacy rights’ of someone else or that they are to be treated as ‘Intermediaries’ and should not be harassed, explains Naavi.

Which brings us back to that old question of freedom and responsibility. Particularly so, with reference to democracies, where one’s rights cannot be divorced from one’s responsibilities. Where there’s freedom, there’s responsibility. Now, if only those hate mongers understood.

Impact on children

As with all other aspects of helping children learn to live life completely, shielding them from cyber bullying is not an effective answer. An emotionally secure home environment that allows exploration and experimentation constantly backed up by support and introspection, would help them develop strong identities. A strong, self-accepting identity, would neither bully or be bullied, the psychologist explains.

The bullies and their victims

  • In March 2007, high-profile technology blogger Kathy Sierra of the United States became a victim of cyber bullying. She received anonymous death threats on her blog and violent comments were made against her. Kathy was so scared that she stopped blogging. The incident triggered a movement in cyberspace, and hundreds of bloggers reported to have been victims of cyber bullying at some point in their online lives. An Anti- Cyber bullying Day was observed on March 30 that year, in protest.
  • Another American citizen, Megan Meier, a 13-year-old girl committed suicide in October 2006, when personal comments on her looks and appearance got to her on a social networking site.
  • Not many Indian bloggers would have forgotten the vicious personal comments and washing of dirty linen on the blogosphere, when a noted youth blog (youthcurry.blogspot.com) had a post about a management institute.
  • Ironically, the Internet is also an excellent resource for parents who are worried about their children becoming targets of vicious attacks. There are websites dedicated to cyber bullying. Some of them include: http://www.cyberbullyalert.com/blog/ stopcyberbullying.org.
Stand up to a bully!
According to psychologist Sonali Nag, “It is an extension of the bullying that seems to be integral to the human predicament, be it on the school playground or between countries. The only difference between the school bully and the Internet bully, perhaps is that anonymity allows the cyber bully an easier chance of getting away. The bully is usually a coward who melts away when confronted.

Here again low self-esteem and deep feelings of inadequacy seem to characterize the bully. Interestingly though, the bullied sometimes, want the relationship with the bully to continue. For the price of being bullied, they gain the reward of being the bully's protege and of being protected by the bully. However, for those who want to be released from this form of abuse, the bullied can be empowered to stand up to a bully.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Social Networking Encourages Cyberstalking

Social Networking Pictures, Images and Photos

Many use Facebook.com daily without being aware of the cyberstalking threat.

When students put their phone numbers, addresses and other personal information on a social networking site like Facebook, they increase their chances of being a cyberstalking victim, said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance.

Kaiser said that because people between the ages of 18-24 have the highest victimization rate, due to the popularity of Facebook and MySpace.com, it's important for students to protect themselves against cyberstalking.
"People should be really guarded in sharing personal information," Kaiser said. "I wouldn't suggest that the Internet is a place to write an autobiography."

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project's January 2009 report about adults and social networking websites, 75 percent of Internet users in the 18 to 24 age group have a profile on a social networking Web site.

A social networking Web site is a place for people to connect with each other by creating a profile that each individual can customize with pictures, contact information and details about interests, such as music and movies, to reflect that person's personality. Kaiser said an e-mail address is usually the only information needed to become part of a social networking Web site.

Some tips Kaiser had for students were install a firewall, anti-spyware, use the highest privacy settings on social networking web sites and limit the information they put online.

Kaiser advised students that they should "be really careful about who you let into your circle."

Along with the active steps that students can take to protect themselves, Kaiser suggested that students enter their names into a search engine to see if they come across information that they didn't know was there.

"People don't even know sometimes how much information about them there is on the Web," Kaiser said. "People leave trails all over the Internet and stalkers will use those trails."

He said stalkers would use anything from an e-mail address to a phone number, street address or instant message, to stalk a victim.

Nick Penta, a pre-veterinary science freshman, said he thinks an ex-girlfriend stalked him over MySpace. He said she sent him several messages and viewed his profile about 20 times a day to learn about his new girlfriend.

Kaiser said stalking is defined as repeated actions that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.

Penta added that he wasn't scared of his ex's actions.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice's January 2009 report "Stalking Victimization in the United States," of the 3.4 million Americans who reported being stalked, 25 percent reported being cyberstalked through email or instant messaging.

Stephen Orlando, a pre-business freshman said he experienced the same jealous behavior by an ex, over the Internet.

According to the report, 75 percent of stalking victims were stalked by someone they knew.

"The vast majority of stalking is done by people who know each other," Kaiser said.

Even taking into account Orlando and Penta's experiences with exes over the Web, the two men have not chosen to make their Facebook profiles private and non-viewable to users whom they have not given permission.

Kaiser advised students to "use the highest privacy settings you can on any of the social networking sites." Amy Cheng, a pre-physiology freshman, said her Facebook profile is private and she doesn't post her personal information on the page.

"I don't put anything on there that I wouldn't show my mom," Cheng said about information on her Facebook profile.

Emily Smith, an undeclared freshman, said that although her profile isn't private, she doesn't put any contact information on her Facebook profile.

She added that if she had more of an issue with cyberstalking she might consider changing her profile to private. Orlando said that he thinks that cyberstalking is more of an issue for women than men.

"There's a lot more creeper stalker people looking for girls than guys," he said.

Penta said that the difference could be attributed to the fact that some women put relatively provocative photos on their individual profiles.

"They're easier targets, just because their pictures might be more revealing," Penta said.
Whatever the reason, the Department of Justice report did concede that women run a much greater risk for being victims of cyberstalking than men.

Whether the victim is a man or woman, the fact that friends and family support the stalking victim is crucial, Kaiser said.

For more information on cyberstalking, Kaiser said that students should visit the National Center for Victims of Crime's Web site, www.ncvc.org or the National Cyber Security Alliance's Web site, www.staysafeonline.org.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

CATFISH: The Television Show

About Catfish: The TV Show 

How do young people who've embraced the digital age find love? Often, it's by connecting online with people they've never met in person. These days, messaging on iPhones has replaced the dinner date, and emailing through social media sites often substitutes for face-to-face conversations. The problem with this approach - the guy or girl you've fallen for could be lying about who they really are.

Now, from the producers of the acclaimed documentary film, Catfish, comes a new MTV series that brings together couples who've interacted solely through their LCD screens. Over the course of months or years - these romantics have become smitten - but what will happen when they meet in real life for the first time? 

In each episode, with the guidance and help of the star of the Catfish movie, Nev Schulman, and his filmmaking pal, Max Joseph, a hopeful romantic partner will go on an emotional journey to discover the truth about their significant other. Has that object of affection been telling the truth? Will true love truly blossom? When that fateful knock on the front door finally comes - only one thing is certain - that these incredible voyages will be filled with mystery, uncertainty, forgiveness, joy, and sometimes, even shocking revelations. 

cat·fish [kat-fish] verb  

To pretend to be someone you're not online by posting false information, such as someone else's pictures, on social media sites usually with the intention of getting someone to fall in love with you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

He's Back! - William Michael Barber Online Trolling AGAIN!

If you or someone you know STILL INSISTS ON DOING ONLINE DATING or just MEETING NEW PEOPLE ONLINE -- be SURE they get this message...

WILLIAM MICHAEL BARBER (known as the 'Don Juan of Con') - convicted con man and bigamist IS BACK ON THE DATING SITES!!

November 2012 - He's on "Sugar Daddy For Me" and here's the latest:


The person who reported him to us says:
I knew it was a fake when I reversed image searched the picture, and I found it belonged to someone coincidentally named Mike Barber. I even found the person in the picture's facebook, and that's when I knew for sure the dating site profile was a fake. Also, what made me think it was [Barber] the con man was this message he sent me (no, I did not respond!):

"hello princess charming, i checked your profile and i really admire what i saw. am a cool gentle man who admire and respect women a lot. i just wanna share some love and see what the future holds, i will be glad if you can email me on my personal email michaelwilliams0077@yahoo.com or your phone number so we can take it from there because i really don't come to the site*, hoping to hear from you."

*Barber, like many cyberpaths - LIVES on online dating sites.  If they say they don't - that's a lie!

They never change. They NEVER "learn their lesson." Conning people is a WAY OF LIFE and these predators go back to it ASAP!

Barber was also at one time using the email: M.barber52@yahoo.com
Barber is 61 years old - not in his "50s"
Barber says he was "born in California" (LIE!)

from our friends at FightBigamy:
This is the generic letter he has been sending to unsuspecting victims, chocked full of run-on sentences, grammatical, and punctuation errors. You would think a guy who 'professed to be a doctor' would know better.

Barber1 Hi Angel How you doing today how is your health and how is your day going. i use to think that all me angels are found in heaven but now i can say i was wrong cos looking at your pictures on your profile you are such an angel. These descriptive little essays are hard to do. But hopefully it gives you a glimpse of who I am as a person. Cause I'm new to this online dating. So here it goes. My name is Micheal...was born in California. i'm 52 years old I'm the kind of man that treats woman so nice with kindness and respect them i care so much i like to take my woman on dates surprise her i am here to meet someone to trust and be there for her through anything. Someone to do things with and enjoy life with I want to share my life with that special woman who would be called my Queen i've a good sense of humor Loyal Genuine I love anything to do with the ocean and beautiful sunsets i love the rain i'm a very serious person Hoping to hear from you Well you can IM me on yahoo im at M_barber at yahoo dot com.

He professes to be
new at online dating, yet he knows that online dating sites will not publish a bona fide email address when communicating via their systems, so he spells it out -- as he is well aware that the dating site's software will not catch the email address if is written that way!

In the past, Barber has had a penchant for women named Joyce or Donna. THIS MAY have changed since his conviction & incarceration. In the past he's claimed to be a sports figure, a doctor, a private investigator -- even a P.O.W.!

By the way, this ad above was on an LDS (Mormon) Dating Site! As we said yesterday - NO WHERE IS SAFE. NO ONLINE DATING SITE OR CHAT SITE IS SAFE!! No matter what their ads say!

Barber will change his information, get false identity papers and/or change his nicknames & email AS SOON AS HE KNOWS HE'S BEEN CAUGHT ON THIS ONE. BEWARE!!


Write to EOPC immediately if you have any contact with this Cyberpath so we can pass the information along! (cyberpaths@gmail.com)

For more information on Barber, including pictures of this serial predator:


FightBigamy on Barber

Very Bad Men on Barber - click on "THE DON JUAN OF CON"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hate & the Internet

Does the internet encourage insidious and bullying behaviour?

I remember the first time I logged into a chatroom. It was 1996, and I was using my mum's AOL account to mooch around the world wide web, which was still very much in its infancy. I was in that glorious, unrestricted period of life between college and reality, and the web seemed to offer splendid, unrestricted access to the outside world in a way that no generation had known before.

So it was with cocky confidence that I joined the "general" room as "Dan" (of undisclosed gender) and instantly discovered the thrill of anonymity. Behind my digital mask, I began a brief but satisfying tirade of mockery, contrariness and antisocial behaviour. Of course, compared with the stream of epithets that Xbox Live users encounter playing online, my efforts were pretty tame – I didn't question anyone's sexuality, make any racial slurs or say anything particularly negative about anyone's mother. But the sense of release I experienced in 10 minutes of childishness has remained at the back of my mind ever since I started studying the web; it helps define our behaviour online.

For some, this new technology not only facilitates, but actively encourages insidious and novel social ills. Blogs and forums are no-go zones for people who hope for rational conversation; cyberbullying has been blamed for several recent suicides; and white power, homophobic and jihadist organisations have colonised the web, preferring its potential to old-fashioned pamphleteering. It looks as if the web makes it possible for us to hate one another more easily, more efficiently and more effectively.

My mantra is that the web is an agnostic communication platform: it can do nothing to us except reflect who we are. However, as my own little descent into cyber-trollism attests, there are aspects of it that do encourage antisocial behaviour.

The biggie is anonymity, according to Dr Karen Douglas from the University of Kent, who studies the psychology of hatred online. We can log into a forum under a pseudonym, lob a hate bomb and then fade away into the digital ether. It's like playing a trick on Halloween; it's childish, it seems insignificant, and it's kinda fun. Unfortunately, such actions can have real-life consequences depending on who the hatred is directed at, how often it happens and whether there's support in place if the victim needs it.
But is anonymity alone the issue? Philip Zimbardo, professor emeritus at Stanford University, has been studying why people do evil since the 60s, and he says that environmental social cues are equally as important. In his famous Stanford prison experiment in 1971, a random selection of psychologically stable subjects were transformed into brutal prison guards after being given mirrored sunglasses and uniforms and told to play the role.

To reindividuate anonymous members of online crowds, forums, blogs and news sites – including the Observer's – are increasingly asking commentators to register their real names before posting any material (even if they then do so using a pseudonym). It's believed that the forging of this simple link between the virtual and offline persona is why relatively few counter-normative attitudes are expressed on sites such as Facebook, where exposing yourself as racist can turn you into a social pariah. Unless, of course, your friends are racists too. And that's a more difficult problem to solve.

Data traffic indicates that, online, we are increasingly talking to people just like ourselves, relying on our friends' directions to navigate the web. It's ironic that, rather than opening us up to an ever-greater number of opinions and attitudes, social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter may actually be narrowing our worldview, confirming what we already believe and reinforcing attitudes we hold already.

So what happens when we only communicate with people like ourselves, and the messages we share only reinforce our mutual hatred? It's a technique radical religious and racist organisations have always used to make sure their members conform, but now they're employing technological tools to create global communities of like-minded ideologues.

Groups such as Stormfront.org and GodHatesFags.com use the web for networking, self-promotion and recruitment. They give support and intellectual ammunition to existing members, rarely explicitly inciting violence. Thankfully, it appears that efforts to convince non-believers to convert to their cause are rarely successful – although we have yet to see the impact of their children's zones (with links to games, and alternative information for schoolwork, that reinforce their ideologies).

It's not all bad news, however. Just as the web is a powerful tool to get the message out, it's also a good vehicle to expose its flaws. The rampant opinions that dominate online life challenge users to be critical of the content they consume, and considerate in how they construct effective counter-arguments.

Online hatred is real, and it can have a very real effect. But we are in command of the technology; it's not in charge of us. And as for anonymity, back in 1996, even though I hid behind a false name, I didn't throw a hate bomb into that chatroom and run away; no, I was booted out. And frankly, my moment of humiliation was exactly what I deserved.