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Special, premium smilies – like a vibrating, multi-color LOL – cost extra.Cam share (audio not enabled) costs six credits a minute. The Fortune article observes: "And thanks to people like me willing to pay to talk with beautiful young women like Anastasia – who was paid to respond – the trade is doing pretty well".The female profile is in her 20s (29 was the most common age), and also has a high income.She presents herself as a student, also with a degree and no interest in politics.The Guardian journalist reported that "none of the men I became close to on my tour ended up in lasting relationships, and the majority appeared to fall victim to a number of sophisticated scams".A girl on the site who was interviewed "explained the whole sordid array of techniques, from a light impersonalised online-chatting version to a full-service chauffeur-driven platinum fraud, where men are rinsed of cash for a full week in Odessa, thinking they are cementing a lifelong relationship while actually they are being strung along on platonic dates that end with them dispatched to the airport with heavy hearts and empty wallets".
In the Fortune interview, Brooks said that his goal was to improve the reputation of Anastasia Date and the international online dating industry as a whole, saying that the industry is "on the cusp of respectability".
Around 7.8 million UK adults used online dating sites in 2016, up from just 100,000 in 2000.
But just as dating app users are at an all-time high, so is the number of people becoming victims of online dating fraud.
And it’s not just particularly vulnerable people who fall victim either.
“[It’s] not the case that stupid people fall for romance scams - they can be very clever,” Professor Monica Whitty, a cyber-psychologist, explains. Scamalytics, a company which runs anti-scammer software for a number of the major dating sites, are trying to reduce online dating fraud by creating profiles of the average male and female con artist.