men wouldn’t keep signing up.” Evans, the industry consultant, agreed: “Look at or Adult Friend Finder, the two big sex and hook-up sites,” he said.“You know after five minutes that there isn’t a single real woman on there.Somebody like Fling, they make money by BSing everything.” Unfortunately, despite even the allegations of insiders, it’s very difficult to prove the extent of fake-profiling.

Profile-writers made roughly $25,000 a year, with bonuses for hitting certain monthly subscription targets.

“There is, undoubtedly, widespread pseudo profiling and fake messages still going on in the industry,” Pitcher said.

“If you don’t have pseudos to try and fulfill the sexual desires of these men …

For lots of sites, acquiring such a pot is pretty easy.

If you’re a niche site running off a platform like White Label — which thousands of niche dating sites do — that partnership will frequently come preloaded with a database of real users.

Meanwhile, if you’re peddling run-of-the-mill, straight-laced dating, a la Match or e Harmony, you can just buy Facebook ads and run 10-second spots on TV.

“Adult dating” and hook-up sites have a serious problem, though, Pitcher says: While they have no problem attracting interested guys, they absolutely bomb when it comes to women.

Ashley Madison has long claimed, in triumphant news releases and slick, Web-ready graphics, that it is one of the few dating sites that really clicks with women.

According to statistics CEO Noel Biderman has trumpeted in the media, Ashley Madison enjoys an overall 70/30 gender split — with a 1:1 male/female ratio among the under-30 set.

But the user records laid bare by hackers last week tell a very different story: Of the more than 35 million records released, only 5 million — a mere This discrepancy may be the smoking gun that proves something angry users, industry insiders and government watchdogs have alleged for some time: that when it comes to reporting their own user numbers, paid-dating sites distort, manipulate … “Ashley Madison has paid people to write profiles, and they’ve allowed fake profiles to proliferate on their site,” said David Evans, an industry consultant who has contracted with Ashley Madison in the past and has tracked the business of online dating since 2002. That’s not news.” It may be news, however, to the legions of paying online daters who have treated tales of “date bait” as message-board apocrypha — and not as a tangible, industry-wide practice that they themselves have encountered.

Ryan Pitcher, who spent two years in the late aughts running a fake-profile team for Global Personals — parent of the massive, multinational dating platform White Label — explains the scheme like this: Paid-dating sites only make money when potential customers believe they’re sitting on a huge pot of available dates — so many dates, in fact, that it’s worth ponying up 20 or 30 dollars a month just to message them.