Cupid Fights Dating Site Scammers With Scamalytics

In 2008, IntroAnalytics launched their recommendation system for dating sites. As I expected, because every matching system vendor does this, they broadened their focus into anti-scam and e-commerce. Why? In part because getting dating sites to license a third-party matching system is incredibly difficult and behavioral matching works across all sorts of industries.

The company changed their name to RecSys, broadened their scope, and now they have an anti-scam system that they hope the dating industry will embrace.

Fighting scammers is a high-stakes game, and obviously scammers negatively affect the dating industry. The amount of anti-scam code running on some dating sites rivals the code used to match and display profiles.

The problem with the dating industry isn’t that they need new anti-fraud technology, many companies already offer mature competing services. Dating sites need to deliver better matches.

Its going to be an uphill battle to get the dating industry to all use the same system to fight scammers, lets see what the Scamalytics team can make happen in the next 24 months. I can see a bunch of tier 3 dating sites and some tier 2 sites playing along. Shared database of scammers increasing value, maybe some decent ROI reports that make sense to a broader range of potential customers, leveraging the benefits and use of the system in advertising, etc.

And still dating sites will have millions of  inauthentic profiles. You know who the biggest scammers are on a dating site? Each and every member with a profile. Dating sites still don’t understand, or choose to ignore the fact  that (usually unintentionally) misleading profiles are 1,000 times more problematic to a dating site than scammers or bad matching systems in terms of negative impact. If the profile is bad, then it doesn’t matter how good the matching system is.

Technically you could say that RecSys does in fact address the two primary concerns of any dating site, authenticity (Scamalytics to a degree) and compatibility (IntroAnalytics).

Where is the VC-backed startup that helps people create authentic profiles? Thats probably a $50/million a year company right there (dating, LinkedIn, Facebook, value-added services, etc).

There was a company a few years ago that did “Pick the photo that best represents your favorite activities” type profile generators as an API, which I believe Match “adopted” and eHarmony tested, but that was not even getting close to the real issue of profile authenticity.

Nobody is going after this space, leading vendors in the industry are instead focused on reutilizing their core competencies in various ways: matching algorithms we’re not sure work and anti-scam technology that’s already on the market and other similar functionality.

What grows the dating industry faster and is better for singles, 50 million authentic profiles backed by an astoundingly-competent matching system or getting rid of a few percent of scammers?

RecSys has close ties to the dating industry, something that other outsiders lack. This closeness can only help them as they try to win over enough of the industry to be a viable anti-fraud  solution used by more than a few sites.

I was somewhat surprised to see that Cupid PLC was using anti-scam technology, given that most of their revenue comes from adult and casual dating and that is where they likely stand to lose the most new signups. Perhaps the money spent removing a few percent of their database each month is worth the traffic hit. I see a little bump in share price due to the announcement, lets see how it affects revenues and traffic down the road.

From the press release (edited down):

Cupid PLC is now using Scamalytics technology from RecSys Ltd. Scamalytics anti-scammer technology is already operating on Cupid’s BeNaughty.com and GirlsDateForFree.com websites, with rollout planned on other Cupid plc sites such as Cupid.com, Flirt.com, BlackMatch.com within months.

The results to date have been impressive: Cupid’s anti-scammer measures are now catching scammers 35 percent faster and scammer detection is up 10 percent. And, to stay ahead of a fast-moving game, Cupid can now quickly adapt its anti-scammer measures to evolving scammer techniques.

20,000 scammers are being identified and permanently blocked from Cupid’s communities each month. In addition, any individual identified as a scammer is added to the Scamalytics master database, which is accessed by other online dating companies that use Scamalytics (at least the ones that agree to share the data, I’m sure some sites don’t like to share with competitors, just ask iovation.)

A 10% increase seems reasonable, if a bit low, but its early days. I’m sure that number will go up over time, especially if they truly can adapt to evolving scammer patterns.

Iovation, who is tracking over a billion devices, has been selling anti-fraud services to the dating industry for years. They have a dozen or so clients in the space and offer a similar “shared database” of identified fradulent devices and IP addresses.

Two vendors going after the same industry. A comparison is needed. Integration efforts, APi’s, how much data is being shared, pricing, use cases, ROI, dealing with false positives and many other factors need to be addressed in order to pick the solution thats right for your dating site. This is what I do.

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Comments

  1. hope to be a mmember

  2. Dave, I agree with your statement “dating needs better match technology”. It’s what got us into the dating business in the firtst place with IntroAnalytics.com and has shown in client A/B tests that click-throughs on IntroAnalytics matches are higher by as much as 50% when users are shown personalised matches rather than aggregate matches for them.

    However, I disagree with your statement “dating industry doesn’t need more anti-fraud technology”. We’re not just another shared database of IP addresses and device ids (which are not as reliable as they were before).

    Knowing that fraudsters are coming up with new scams all the time. we’ve taken a machine learning approach that allows tests to learn from each other. We can’t publish all our techniques publically for security reasons.

    In a nutshell, dating sites have relied on third-party blacklists, alongside their own internal systems. Scamalytics use hundreds of different tests, but crucially the outcome of any one test is automatically used to improve all the other tests. This means, for example, if a scammer fails an IP blacklist check, Scamalytics automatically looks at their historical messaging behaviour and adds any new learnings into the appropriate models used by those tests too. This is why Cupid PLC are finding more scammers faster than before.

    We’d be happy for you to perform an independent comparative assessment for one of your clients.

    Nick Tsinonis
    Scamalytics.com

  3. Keep your eye on Soul2Match.com. We have been working on a solution together with a partner to create a tool that will enable sites and in particular users to prevent them from scammers and tracing scammers.

  4. I’ve always wanted to try the online dating thing, but have concerns with how safe it is for me. I’ve had problems with sites filling up my inbox with unwanted mails and I do have the feeling that if I sign up for one of these things, maybe it will be the same problem for me. How do you make sure that these problems doesn’t arrive and as you said about scammers? I want to match your friends, and find out if there is a http://www.newdateproject.com.

  5. If dating website can detect scammers then it will be so good to those who are using such sites. Scammers have made people scared of online dating because they do not know who they might end up with on such a site. This technology should be widely embraced.

  6. The reason there are so many scammers on free dating sites is because no one is monitoring the site – because it’s free. They’re not concerned with customer complaints or problems, because the customers aren’t paying anything. These free dating sites make money from advertising. Their goal is to drive people to the website to click on the ads so they get paid. They are interested in numbers only – driving a massive amount of traffic to the site. They could care less if the members are unhappy with the site. Their goal is NOT to put up a quality, well-liked, excellent dating site.

  7. Dating sites need to do more to catch scammers. These guys use all manner of tricks to ply their nefarious trade. To be ahead, dating sites need to get the latest technology to monitors user activities on their sites.

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