Valentine's Day is Tuesday, and people may be looking for the perfect date on the computer screen, but dating in cyberspace does have its pitfalls. Sometimes people bend the truth about themselves.
Cynthia Amaro, 35, is a fashion executive and devoted online dater. She has run in to her share of fakers.
"I had all these men at my disposal, and so many to choose from, and that's where it started to get a little tricky," she said.
On a date with "Andrew" she realized that he was misleading her with an old photo.
"How old is that photo?" she asked him.
"About 15 years," he said. "And we're here now, and I probably don't look like Fabio?"
"He looked nothing like his photograph," Amaro said. "His hair was five inches longer and he looked like he just got back from the original Woodstock. I was frustrated. How is this happening to me again?"
Some 50 million Americans have pursued romance online, and online dating is now a $500 million industry. But it is not difficult to invent a more attractive identity. According to a Truedater.com survey, people most often embellish their physical appearance and lie about their age and marital status.
Experienced daters say you have to learn to read between the lines.
"I think Rubenesque means a little overweight," said Doug Senderoff, an online dater. "And voluptuous, I would put in the same category. Slim and slender -- even that can be suspicious, at times."
"It's very much like shopping: You want to put yourself in the best package because someone can just go on to the next person," said Jillian Straus author of "Unhooked Generation."
Truedater.com is a Web site that allows online daters to write reviews of their dates and expose those who lie.
"Amazon.com has book reviews, Truedater has online dating reviews," said Jamie Diamond, the director of Truedater.com. "Anything that is in someone's profile is up for grabs to comment on. So there's pictures: If the pictures were accurate, let's know about that. And then there is height, age, weight, marital status. Anything that anyone writes down, if it's grossly misrepresented in person, tell us about it."
Amaro said it sounded like a great concept that might save her from another wasted night out and keep her focused on all the nice guys out there.
"Never give up," Amaro said. "If you don't put yourself out there, nothing is going to happen."
Truedater has some tips for spotting fakers:
If a person has only one or two photos posted online, it's a bad sign. Those might be the best photos ever taken of them.
Read the essays: Do they freely disclose basic information or are they secretive about who they are?
Check for multiple profiles that have different ages or other details.