Whether to Buy or Build Scammer Detection


“Effective scammer protection” is not a USP you often see in dating site marketing campaigns. This backend problem tends to come under the category of “firefighting” rather than “features”, so is it a good candidate for outsourcing, in the same way that managed hosting or anti-virus is?

One of the main advantages of outsourcing is, of course, cost control. Scamalytics charge a flat rate per user, meaning that you pay a fixed rate each month, regardless of whether or not you get hit by unexpected scams.

Co-founder Nick Tsinonis said: “Part of what we are selling is a predictable monthly cost for an effective solution – we build in burstable margins, so if a client is hit by a large and unexpected attack, they won’t pay more for that”.

Many dating sites still like to retain an element of protection in-house though, for example Lovestruck, a high-end dating site based in the UK that caters to busy professionals.
Laurence Holloway, the co-founder and CTO said:

“We take a hybrid approach: some elements are better if engineered in-house and deeply embedded in the heart of your own systems, but specialist information (and external, shared knowledge) will always be more powerful in certain areas of fraud detection, due to a much larger data set and collaborative algorithms.”

This highlights a second advantage of outsourcing: sharing intelligence and techniques across the wider industry. Most of the third party systems, such as Maxmind, Iovation, Threatmetrix and Scamalytics, have data-sharing at the core of their products. In the case of Maxmind, that might be a high-risk IP address. Iovation and Threatmetrix both look at risky devices. Scamalytics take profile data and message text, and compare it to known scammers and bots.

Some dating sites take a “belt and braces” approach, by combining multiple third-party solutions, along with their own internal systems.

Jennifer Doherty, from Cupid Media’s Fraud Prevention Team, said:

“It’s important to create a multi-pronged and multi-layered defence against scammers, to catch them at all potential touch points. A combination of technology purchased from third parties, and internally-built detection around your specific requirements, is the strongest defence against scammers.”

White Label Dating also take the hybrid approach, but with an emphasis on developing in-house moderation expertise, as co-founder and CEO Ross Williams explains:

“A combination of buying and building scammer detection is what we’ve found to be the most effective way of combatting scammers. Technology like Scamalytics is great for determining scammer trends and removing scammers displaying obvious behavioral patterns, but human identification will always be essential. With scammer techniques becoming more advanced, it takes a human eye, knowledge and instinct to stop the most advanced scammers in their tracks.”

A third benefit of outsourcing is to free up value dev resource, to focus on product differentiators, such a new features, growth hacking, or supporting new devices. Fighting scammers is a massive duplication of effort across the industry, which is more efficiently managed by a centralised team. Your software development team is your most highly-prized and over-utilised asset. You should be dedicating every hour of development time on improving your product and growing your market share, not reinventing the wheel each time a new scam or fraud technique comes along.

By Dan Winchester, co-founder of Scamalytics.

This article is from our report on Scammers & Dating Fraud, which you can download for free below:

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