I already outlined in ESL #15 how they get men hooked, but these rules apply to pretty much everyone. For starters, to avoid getting ripped off:
1) Use common sense
If you're getting an email from someone who is out of your league in real life, why would you have a shot at them just because they're online flirting with you? For example, let's say you're a 47-year old male, slightly husky, and there's this drop dead gorgeous, 24 year old blonde who looks like she should be a bikini model emailing you. Can you really take her seriously? Even if it says somewhere in your profile that you make 150,000 a year, do you think she's gonna be after anything but money? Is it that hard for her to find an average looking 47-year old guy in her town?
I'd say that probably 90% of the time, by the second or third email, she'll be telling you that she actually lives in Russia or Nigeria. Everything will be going smoothly for awhile, she might even be telling you that she loves you after the second or third email.
Somewhere between the 8th and 12th email, she'll be discussing plans to go to a travel agency, but she won't make any mention of needing money-yet. About 2-3 emails later, she will email back, heartbroken, but still thinking it is possible to "arrive to you", and here's where the hook comes in:
Step 1-She gradually establishes that I am alone, lacking a significant other here. By using this information, she builds a perceived closeness with me through her emails.
Step 2-She assures me I AM A STRONG MAN, and can do anything to help her, because we will be together when "we" get her financial woes taken care of. She is playing on the first step by telling me how much she wants us to be together.
Step 3-She establishes that she needs my help, and that I can do it, since I am A STRONG MAN. She is playing on the typical male ego because she thinks it would be a blow to my self-esteem if I can't do it.
Step 4-This only happens after rejecting her money request. She will tell that she has already paid part of the travel costs, as much as half of the total sometimes. She'll try to pull a guilt trip by saying something like, "I can't get this money back, what do I do now?"
Now let's try to think about how believable this sounds. Hmm, how many places will accept partial payment to travel out of the country & then give you 6-7 days to pay the rest later otherwise you lose the huge chunk of money, like half the cost of the plane ticket? That just sounds way too unrealistic for me to buy into it.
Another thing to look into-some countries only let you do visa applications during certain times of the year. If they tell you they are from another country, do a little research and see if they have restrictions such as "only apply from August 1st to October 31st". If they tell you that their visa is pending when it's still months away from the date range for applying, you know they're just feeding you a bunch of crap.
Now, as for actually spotting their profiles-
Here's a funny example I spotted on a dating site last week. This woman's headline or quote or whatever you want to call it was "Easy as a breeze", and yet she was wondering why so many men email her only wanting to have sex with her. Hmm, I wonder why? I think it's because she didn't really know English well, and didn't realize what "easy as a breeze" would mean here! She'd have better luck finding a decent guy if her headline read "I can put both feet behind my head".
Their English comprehension should make alot of them a dead giveaway. For instance, one easy way to spot an email from Nigeria-they use the term cos instead of because. You'll notice that in any of my emails from Nigeria.
The ones from Russia are always the funniest though, with the exception of ESL's #25 & 26. In Russia, they have one word which translates into he, she or it. I had one that kept referring to her sick grandmother as "it". they'll refer to exchanges of affection as "transfers"; i've since made it a general rule that if the word transfer is in their profile, it's gotta be a scammer. They also refer to themselves as "my person", which sets up all sorts of jokes about threesomes (tell her to bring her person along as well when she flies out). Their backward sentence structure is just so entertaining though, it can be almost charming sometimes. When they turn the sunset into "the scarlet decline", or when they go to talk about themselves, they say something like, "To talk about it me".
The ones that are really busy sometimes have gender identity issues, i've had at least a couple of them that said things like, "I the very jealous man", or "I think that I the very romantic man".
Last, but certainly not least-I know i'm repeating myself, but USE COMMON SENSE! If they email you on the dating site and give you their email address, hmm...why would they need to give you their email address when they can just email you on the site? Because they can't ask for money on the dating site, it's totally against the rules, on every dating site i've been on! Sometimes they'll even get reported by other members and you'll see that you've gotten an email from someone who had their profile deleted. I would bet that 9 times out of 10 it's because they asked someone for money! Don't reply back to someone who gave you their personal email address. If you're a member on a dating site, you don't need their personal email, you can just use the site's email to keep it safe.
So, to summarize:
1) Use common sense. If it's too good to be true, it probably is.
2) Do not exchange personal information outside of the dating site.
3)If they want you to email them outside of the website, they probably want money.
4)If they can't speak English, what are the odds that they actually live in your town?
I know that last rule can be tricky in some places. For instance, in Denver there is a rather large Russian community, they even have a small independent newspaper for the neighborhood. One thing that would help in this case, since they probably do speak broken English, is to look at the age range they have listed for the men they're seeking. I saw a couple of them that were looking for men 30 to 80, and they were both supposedly in their 20's! Get real! How many hot 28 year olds are looking for an 80 year old guy? Isn't it obvious that they're only looking for money if they'll go after an 80 year old? Unless the woman's name is Anna Nicole Smith, an 80 year old isn't going to have a chance.
Well, I think i've pretty much covered all of the bases for now, but if I think of anything else to add here, I will update this post.
I've just noticed another little detail about the Nigerian scammers-they put the name of the city they live in IN ALL CAPS, like they really need to grab your attention when they tell you the name of the city they're in. What are they thinking? "He'll believe i'm in a city in the U.S. if I type in all caps!" Nice try though, i've caught on...