back to article AI systems sieve out catfish from the dating pool in effort to lock away scammers

Catfishing, the act of pretending to be someone you're not to deceive people over the internet, can be caught early on by machine learning systems to prevent fake online romance scams. Dating websites and apps are the best place for catfishers to set up shop. All you have to do is create a convincing profile. Make it appealing …

  1. Shadow Systems

    I've got a better use for catfish.

    Cut off the head, drop it in the wood chipper, & mulch the mince into the garden as fertilizer.

    Or is that not something we're allowed to do to the pseudo-Human kind?

    /s?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cringe at the ages

    Am I the only person who cringed slightly reading the average ages of fake profiles? To scam a 50 year old women, you have to pretend to be a 50 year old man. However to scam a 50 year old man, you have to pretend to be a 30 year old women...

    Are we really that obvious!?

    (yes, there's some assumptions built in to this post to make a point)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Re: Cringe at the ages

      Am I the only person who cringed slightly reading the average ages of fake profiles? To scam a 50 year old women, you have to pretend to be a 50 year old man. However to scam a 50 year old man, you have to pretend to be a 30 year old women...

      Are we really that obvious!?

      I didn't cringe. These just reflect successful genetic traits affecting psychology that have propagated widely through the population, at the expense of traits that cause different behaviour. It's just biology. The basic strategy is the same for all mammal species that continue 'fetal' development after birth, although ours is the only one that uses dating websites.

      The male trait is to attract and select fertile females, which means young, and as many as possible. Since the cost of mating is small for a male, there is no need to be very choosy though. The female trait is to attract and select a male who can provide the maximum resources for her offspring to survive to maturity. Since producing and raising offspring is extremely expensive for the female, she needs to be very selective. From this paragraph alone, a sufficiently intelligent alien civilisation could probably deduce the existence of Lamborghinis and makeup.

      1. Tom Paine

        Re: Cringe at the ages

        Actually, I think you'll find...

        The quality of sperm quality decreases with a man's age, increasing the chances of birth defects, developmental problems and other things that make them a poorer choice of breeding partner than a 30-year old man (given modern life expectancies and the relatively high death rate in 20-something males,) That's why, in most cultures, when 30 year old women form couples with 50 year old men, it's generally assumed that other factors must be at work.

        See, that's the problem with reductionist biological explanations that fail to take account of culture and societal pressures... they're superfically appealing but unsatisfactory explanations for a surprisingly large amount of human behaviour.

        (PS https://boingboing.net/filesroot/201004071446.jpg )

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cringe at the ages

        "Since the cost of mating is small for a male, there is no need to be very choosy though. The female trait is to attract and select a male who can provide the maximum resources for her offspring to survive to maturity."

        Thank-you. This entirely and scientifically explains why I am hotter than George Clooney and all my girlfriends* are made of rubber.

        (* four in active use, one full up, two in the wash.)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Are you tired of being lonely? Do you want to find REAL love?"

    You know your readership too well. Where do I register?

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: "Are you tired of being lonely? Do you want to find REAL love?"

      Well, duh, in The Register of course....

  4. bpfh
    Headmaster

    From my days managing a dating site...

    When a contact’s defined localisation (for example, “Hot girl from Southampton”) mismatches from their IP range (for example Niamey - Nigeria Telecom DSL pool) there is a 100% chance of cat fishing.

    When the girl pings the guy first, there is a 70% chance of cat fishing, even if you are George Clooney, jumping to 100% if within the first 10 messages you get asked to leave the site to chat on $ThirdPartyChatOrEmail, so looking for keywords like “WhatsApp” or “Skype” in the first 10 messages is a definite red flag (this is so that the cat fisher can continue to work their mark even after their dating site account gets banhammered)

    There you are. 90% of cat fishing solved with these actual intelligence rules...

    Edge cases and VPN’s can work around these base limitations but this filters enough crud out to make the site’s support team able to work on advanced validation on the remaining suspects, including requiring a valid email from the registered account, checking details in there with header analysis, checking photo vs photo id, this is all fakeable but it’s more checking the metadata for coherency than anything else.

    The only problem is that you are powering the arms race and only the smarter ones will get through....

  5. Crisp

    Is this why every match I get wants me to buy them an amazon gift card?

    See title.

    1. bpfh

      Re: Is this why every match I get wants me to buy them an amazon gift card?

      Yes. And can you buy me one while you are at it, you handsome rogue, you!

      I had one that actually strung me along for 4 days when I actually was looking to date - I knew the tactics and was leery so, her photo was too good to be true, so I googled a sporty person, was asked quick to go to Skype (create throwaway Skype account and hotmail email). Catfisher refuses to send email. Shame. Hotmail used to send a “sent-from” header with the source IP and some local time zone info. After 24 hours the dating site profile got banned, but she “had” me on my throwaway. Very insisting to chat, despite being in a town about 5 hours drive away, trying to pump for information. Could have been innocent but I’m dragging this out for gits and shiggles. I tried getting some local info about where she lived, that was google mapped and looked up - as I said very insistant to chat and provide times when I would be back to keyboard.

      After 3 days I said I was going shopping, and got asked if while I was out, could I get her a PCS credit card recharge for 30 or 90 Euros and send her the code as she could not buy meds for her baby. That is a personal red flag (as if I did not know where this was going from the first message), as healthcare here is good and cheap anyway, and if you really cannot afford care, you will get full state health-cover 100% up front zero outlay, especially if you have a young kid, that’s when I bid a goodbye and threw the accounts.

      This was the longest one I had, I must have been pinged by at least 40 people, almost all were “let’s skype” within 2 messages, 1 was wanted WhatsApp within 2 messages, though I could not be arsed to burn a phone number for that, one that went for a convo for about an hour, before trying to get to Skype, setting the hook deeper, then this one who spent a long time making sure the bait was set before trying to pull.

      Problem is, and it’s the same with email scams, all you need is one poor heartbroken guy looking for love , not IT savvy, who thinks that this sort of scam won’t happen to them, but there is a bloody lot of them out to pull your heart strings and nab you for a handful of cash, and then drag it out for as long as they can.... and it is easy to stop quite a lot of it...

      1. DropBear

        Re: Is this why every match I get wants me to buy them an amazon gift card?

        I don't doubt scammers having an interest of getting off the website into a parallel channel as soon as possible - the problem is I have never ever seen any account on any site that wasn't keen on doing exactly the same just as quickly. And while I certainly didn't pursue all of them far enough to know how many may have been fakes, I know for certain that at least some of them definitely were real...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Is this why every match I get wants me to buy them an amazon gift card?

          Heck, when i was looking to date, i tried to move things off the app quickly. Of course, I was trying to move to a face-to-face meeting (which was quite effective in weeding out catfish), but...

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the AI can detect fake profiles, it can do the converse and be used to create fake profiles. Probably good ones, too. Sounds like a service one could sell...DPasS. Dating Profiles as a Service.

  7. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    AI detecting catfish? What a barGAN! AI has solved SO many of our societal ills, I can't wait to see it aGAN!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Look up GANs as it relates to AI research....

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Coat

          Yes, I'll have a GANder in a moment...

          1. Korev Silver badge
            Joke

            If I could be Kerased

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ID

    Easier would be for the site to verify id. Phone call especially good as fraudsters deterred by them

  9. Nifty Silver badge

    If it's that easy, can we have one of these to filter fake ads from our browsers and heaven forfend, filter junk and harmful content from Yahoo, YouTube, Instagram etc.

  10. HellDeskJockey
    Holmes

    Ahh yes online dating. I learned to have a separate mailing address for all the NSFW photos sent. Then take look at the mail header and find out they are from another continent. At my age it's more trouble than it's worth.

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