the fall of 1964, on a visit to the World’s Fair, in Queens, Lewis Altfest, a twenty-five-year-old accountant, came upon an open-air display called the Parker Pen Pavilion, where a giant computer clicked and whirred at the job of selecting foreign pen pals for curious pavilion visitors. Within a year, more than five thousand subscribers had signed on. It would invite dozens of matched couples to singles parties, knowing that people might be more comfortable in a group setting. They wound up in the pages of the New York subscriber.
Women were asked to look at a trio of sketches of men in various settings, and to say where they’d prefer to find their ideal man: in camp chopping wood, in a studio painting a canvas, or in a garage working a pillar drill. 1400 Series computer, which then spit out your matches: five blue cards, if you were a woman, or five pink ones, if you were a man.
Men were asked to rank drawings of women’s hair styles: a back-combed updo, a Patty Duke bob.
The vendor of the fraud package advertises a guaranteed response rate of at least 1.2 percent, and states that customers who average 30 scam letters per day can expect to earn roughly $2,000 a week.
The proprietor also claims that his method is more than 20% effective within three replies and over 60% effective after eight.
The call center pictured above charges $10 per call, payable only in Bitcoin.
“If you imagine the cost of doing by phone every part of the scam, it’s rather high, so they do most of the scam via email,” Holden said.It is in this critical, final part of the scam that the fraudster is encouraged to take advantage of criminal call centers that staff women who can be hired to play the part of the damsel in distress.“When you get down to the final stage, there has to be a crisis, some compelling reason why the target should you send the money,” said Holden, founder of Hold Security [full disclosure: Yours Truly is an uncompensated adviser to Holden’s company]. Another question, in a section called “Philosophy of Life Values,” read, “Had I the ability I would most like to do the work of (choose two): (1) Schweitzer. (3) Picasso.” Some of the questions were gender-specific.They started seeing each other, and two years afterward they were married.Also included in the dating scam tutorial is a list of email addresses and pseudonyms favored by anti-scammer vigilantes who try to waste the scammers’ time and otherwise prevent them from conning real victims.