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When Boko Haram kidnapped a group of school girls last spring, Winchester said, dating profile fakers would claim to be there abroad as part of a US special forces mission.

In reality, they were Nigerian con artists, hoping to be sent money to pay for a flight they would never take.“The sad reality is that the most effective scammers will tend to be the human beings who build trusting relationships over a long period of time with their targets,” says Winchester.

But most people wouldn’t blink if they saw it in a real person’s profile.

Likewise, scammers use current events to provide cover stories that explain why they’re in, say, Nigeria.

The result, Scamalytics, is a company that’s able not only to identify a number of key profile traits—in the “low hundreds,” says Winchester—but to measure how they play against one another for a more complete picture of who’s real and who’s swindling.“Features that in isolation may not give you too much information, in combination become much more powerful,” says Winchester.

“We then take the learnings from that academic exercise, and try to scale them up into a production environment that works at enormous speed.”Some of those indicators are proprietary, but a few are fairly obvious.

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That CNN piece has brought in a LOT of information.It did exactly what I think Emily, Abbie and I wanted to do which was bring attention to this.So, I’ve got a LOT of new photos and names and I ask you to be patient as I find time to upload all these images.If one bot network pushes out the same garbled phrase to millions of profiles, it can quickly skew the pick-up line popularity contest.These bots aren’t necessarily looking for love, or even for a direct cash transfer; they’re often simply trying to convince their marks to install something, like an app, in a case of direct marketing gone gross.“In some ways the target isn’t really the victim of anything other than having their time wasted, and installing a game that they don’t necessarily want,” says Winchester of these bot-based shakedowns.

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