Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Keeping scammers off online dating sites

Mark Brooks, my former co-worker, did an interview with Nelson Rodriguez of LoveAccess regarding keeping scammers off online dating sites. Nelson is a great guy, and from our past-discussions I consider him an expert in this area.

The idea of the online dating industry sharing resources to fight scammers was discussed at the iDate 2006 conference in Miami; Mark and I were on that panel. I publicly stated that I would support that effort, and suggested Mark be a good person to spearhead the effort. Seems like his recent interviews are a step in that direction. Kudos, Mark!

I'll include here my comments on Mark's interview with Nelson:

We talked about shared effort at iDate Miami 06. I still think it has merit -- somethings are easy to share and don't get into proprietary info.

At Cupid.com, we only advertise in the US and Canada, so we block IPs known to be from any other foreign country. We use http://ip-to-country.webhosting.info/node/view/6
for this data.

Also, I have no need to allow anyone who wants IP anonymity on my site, so we also block all IPs known to be associated with TOR, The Onion Router.

Commercial anonymizing services will gladly block their members from access your web site if you send them a request.

IPs are easy to change. MAC addresses can be spoofed but that is a good idea I hadn't thought of. But as soon as you block someone, you alert them of the need to change. The only thing that seems to limit scammers is time. So when considering a scammer strategy, devise methods that let them waste time without letting them know that they've been identified. They will learn that your site doesn't convert for them, and they will be motivated to try elsewhere.