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"You can design a bot to fool fraud detection." But, in the case of a number of dating sites, developers aren't trying to weed out fake profiles — they are tirelessly writing scripts and algorithms to unleash more of them.

It’s the dirtiest secret of the billion online dating business and it stretches far beyond Ashley Madison.

Bloggers poured over the data, estimating that of the 5.5 million female profiles on the site, as few as 12,000 were real women — allegations that Ashley Madison denied. Bots are infiltrating just about every dating service.

hristopher Russell owned a small bar in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, but, like a lot people these days, figured he had better odds hooking up online.

Russell was 40 and going through a divorce, so he wasn't seeking anything serious. Shortly after creating his account, he got an alert that one of them had viewed his profile. In order to see more details and contact her, he had to buy credits.

"A lot of people think this only happens to dumb people, and they can tell if they're talking to a bot," says Steve Baker, a lead investigator for the Federal Trade Commission tells me. The people running these scams are professionals, they do this for a living."The scam starts with creating a chat bot, which is easier than you'd think. The Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity, or ALICE, which generates scripts for chatterbots, has been around for decades.

These programs can be modified for any purpose, though designing a believable online dating companion can take considerable time and effort — perhaps too much for some of the troops at Ashley Madison.

Bots were deployed for international markets as well.