'Phomance' doesn't warm developer's heart

Symantec employee's antennae go up when a hot Russian nurse seems unusually interested in corresponding with him despite the paltry details on his online dating profile.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
Leslie Katz led a team that explored the intersection of tech and culture, plus all manner of awe-inspiring science, from space to AI and archaeology. When she's not smithing words, she's probably playing online word games, tending to her garden or referring to herself in the third person.
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Leslie Katz

Phomance might sound like some hip new description of a romantic phone conversation, but Symantec's senior information developer says there's nothing sexy about it.

Phomance, writes Ben Nahorney, is actually the foreboding cross-section between phishing and online dating--and he should know, as he recently received a suspicious e-mail from a hot Russian nurse who seemed unusually interested in corresponding despite the paltry details in his online dating profile.

spam image

Why, out of the multitude of members on the site, had this woman decided to contact me? Did I seem open-minded, having stated that my ideal partner would have "Any" hair/eye/body type? Was I mysterious due to my lack of a picture? Was it that we had "All of the above" in common when it came to the hobbies section? Obviously my skeleton of a personal ad was picked from the site for other purposes.

Little did that most-likely apocryphal Slavic beauty know who she was dealing with when she contacted Nahorney. He immediately saw the telltale signs of a con and went about investigating his potential suitor (who, he noted from her photo, was "I'll wire her money just to take care­ of her sick puppy" gorgeous).

The Wall Street Journal pointed us to Nahorney's quite funny blog about the occurence, which is both a darn good read and a darn good cautionary tale (consumer tips included) about what can happen when scammers slowly win open-hearted victims' trust and then attempt to start bilking them.