Commentary

Long-Distance Dating In The Internet Era

InternetWeek recently ran a feature revealing that online dating was fraught with peril and lots of scams, including women pretending to look for husbands and fraudsters asking for help in getting cash from foreign bank accounts. Oftentimes, said the story, scam artists will chat with their victims for months, even sending them flowers and candy, to make them feel at ease before asking for money.

Geez, doesn't sound too different from the face-to-face dating I experienced in Manhattan for nearly 20 years. Although the fraud was less about money and more about everyday concerns like if the sex was mutually exclusive or if you really wanted to have kids someday. Candice Bushnell notwithstanding, that kind of deception was accepted as part of the normal battle of the sexes. If money ever changed hands before the marriage vows, it was to help pay the rent or for a share in the Hamptons.

But in the interest of helping out those befuddled by online dating scammers, I have prepared a list of questions that ought to be asked and answered so that you have a better handle on whom you might be dealing with:

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1)Just how many goats will $10,000 buy in "Chicago" anyway?
2)Perhaps you could send me a PDF of the fees your country changes to process a visa?
3)I saw your picture in US Weekly, but it was mislabeled as Brad Pitt; should I send the editor a request for a correction? (why didn't you tell me you knew Angelina Jolie? How exciting!)
4)I am so sorry about your grandmother's fall; why not have the hospital contact me directly about her condition and treatment costs?
5)Yes, I'd love to meet in Paris for a romantic weekend; when will you send me a ticket? It's a long flight for me, please make it business class at a minimum, lots of xxxx's...
6)My, that IS a big family. Instead of money, why don't I send a few cases of MREs from the local Army Navy surplus? The labels say the Vietnam-era meals are still good today!
7)As a matter of fact, I do have a Lexus, but my dad, who you will recall is a senior-level official with a federal law enforcement agency, probably won't let me drive it to Mexico.
8)I really appreciate all the gifts. How did you ever find African Peanut Butter Candy in Denver?
9)Let me get this straight, I send you $25,000 and you send me $2.5 million? Why don't you just deduct $25k from my share and send me the balance? Love ya!
10)How come I can't find you on Google?

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