Angela is a 34-year-old single woman from Alabama. She’s a Leo. According to her online dating profile, she is 5’8” with blue eyes and dark brown hair. “I am a creative, witty, intelligent girl looking for someone to shower with all my love and affection!” she declares, appending a smiley face.
Angela was included in a 1,000-pack of allegedly single, supposedly American women, which Betabeat purchased for $35. Her profile is one of a purported 14.9 million for sale on SaleDatingProfiles.com, where the inventory also includes 10,000 U.K. profiles for $200; 15,000 Russians for $240, and 70,000 Australians for $95. A pack of 2,500 lesbian profiles goes for $120, or 4.8 cents apiece; gay men are .003 cents each and are sold in a pack of 410,000. “High quality Gays adult dating profiles for sale with multiplay photos located in USA, United Kingdom, Canada and other countries,” the offer states. At the time of writing, SaleDatingProfiles was having a 75-percent-off spring sale.
Angela, who asked that her last name be withheld, has been dating online for years. But she never imagined her profile was for sale on the open market, or that it now appears on MeetGirlsGuys.com, which she never signed up for. “I have never even heard of that site!” she said, adding that she lives in Texas, not Alabama, and the photo is at least seven years old.
Online dating is a fast-growing industry, with current revenues estimated to run between $1.5 and $3 billion a year. But every new dating site faces the same problem: finding souls to mate. Recruiting new customers is expensive; industry experts put the customer acquisition price at $1 to $5 per person.
SaleDatingProfiles and its competitors BuyProfiles.com and DatingProfilesSale.com offer a shortcut. They sell bulk packages of profiles that seem to include a fair number of actual singles alongside somewhat more questionable Russian beauties, Nigerian bankers and half-empty profiles, which sometimes sell for less than a dime a dozen.