In a strange new form of e-crime, a reader let us know that his OkCupid profile had been stolen — and used to spy on another user.
We hear a lot of stories about people fudging details in their online dating profiles, but what our reader — we'll call him Cyrano, for reasons that will become apparent — experienced was much more dramatic. He discovered that another OkCupid user had copied his entire profile and was passing it off as his own. Cyrano's (real) profile is on the right — the Fraudster's is on the left (Fraudster didn't copy Cyrano's photos, just the text).
Fraudster even copied Cyrano's cultural interests:
So was this a latter-day Cyrano de Bergerac situation, with Fraudster stealing our reader's witty words in hopes of impressing dudes? Not so much, according to a message exchange they shared. Cyrano wrote the following missive:
Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but flattery will get you nowhere. Dude, what the heck, you copied my profile? Not cool.
The Fraudster replied:
hey man sorry about this, i really am. This is not really me made a fake one just to spy on bf >.<
IM SORRY , but i will erase it. let me just use it for a while.
sorry about this dude
Somehow, Cyrano was not mollified by the Fraudster's heartfelt apology, by the explanation that the profile was "just" a way to spy on his boyfriend, or by the eminently reasonable request to "let me just use it for a while." He reported the fake profile to OkCupid
, but they have yet to take action. The site has also not yet responded to our requests for comment. The site has informed us the fake profile was removed this morning.
At this point, we're well-acquainted with the horrors of online dating, but profile theft is a new one. Is this something we have to worry about now? Will OkCupid institute rules to keep it from happening? And what real-world category of misdeeds does it even fall under — identity theft? Plagiarism? Misrepresentation? All of the above? It'll be interesting to see whether, in the coming years, online profiles come to be seen as a form of intellectual property — and whether laws spring up to protect them. Until then, says Cyrano, "The moral of the story is constant vigilance. And also, if you're gonna steal from somebody's profile, make sure said person can't track you down."