If you are a middle-aged woman and have an Instagram account, you have probably come across some ardent admirers. They typically have about 8 posts, and they only follow women in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s or older. And most of them have a string of numbers after their usernames. That’s why I call them the number men.
The number men start following you, expecting you to follow them back. But even if you don’t (and if for some inexplicable reason you haven’t already blocked them), sooner or later they will DM you, perhaps just to say Hi or Hello (or some other more or less lame version of that). Some of them are more direct and tell you how unbelievably beautiful you are, and how much they would like to get to know you.
I don’t need to tell you that these
poor suckers romantic souls are not mistaking Instagram for Tinder. Or that only an idiot doesn’t know that they have a more sinister agenda, which will soon become apparent if you continue talking to them.
However, the number men seem to think that most women have IQs smaller than their dress sizes. So, they keep trying. Never mind the obvious scam, underestimating my intelligence is good enough a reason to block anyone, in my opinion. And I block (and report) dozens of number men every day, and probably you do, too.
In spite of that, they still annoy me. Not just because there seems to be an endless supply of them (although, oddly enough, not an endless supply of the photos you see on their feeds…), and blocking them is the Instagram version of whack-a-mole. What annoys me most is that every time another one these number men pops up in my followers, I want to scream ‘How F***ing stupid do you think I am?!?’, or, ‘Come on, is that really the best you can do?!?‘.
You see, I have no tolerance for stupidity, in any form. Seriously, nothing annoys me more than stupid people. Except people who take me for an idiot…
Anyway, as scammers, the number men are not even mediocre; they suck. They are unimaginative and lazy. Which makes checking their bios a good way to let off some steam.
Let’s see, what are the number men like?
Besides good looks and very generic names, such as John Williams or Ben Miller, they always have an adorable child (sometimes an elderly mother), who is generously featured on their instagram feed (that is, in at least a few of the 8 photos).
And they all have exciting careers: doctors, engineers, generals, or sometimes all of the above. Needless to say that this fantastic career is also generously featured on the very well-edited Instagram feed…
However, some of the details might be a bit confusing. For example, the name tag and rank of the very handsome military man in the picture might not match the name and rank in the bio. But women don’t care about little inconsistencies, right?
And have you noticed that so many of these more or less high-ranking ‘American’ officers have such a poor command of the spelling and grammar of their native language? But who am I to judge? After all, English is not my native language; I’m just an EFL teacher with almost 30 years of teaching experience…
And being up to date on world events or politics seems a bit challenging for them, too. Or perhaps ‘Seargeant Miller‘ didn’t get the memo last August…
Oh well, who can keep up with all of that? It is often better to play it safe and avoid divulging any details. After all, women like a bit of mystery. It’s far more important to show potential
marks partners that the man in the photos is not only a trustworthy professional but also very sensitive and romantic. Because every woman wants a surgeon who posts pictures of flowers and/or other cheesy romantic imagery…
Thank you for reading the rant of the week, or month, or the moment. It is good to vent a bit every once in a while. You know, when you take a break from whack-a-mole…
What do you do about the number men who start following you?
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Ha! I love this, Tiina! I am familiar with the number men and I absolutely adore that phraseology! I also cannot tolerate when people assume I am stupid. That is the one thing that can turn me nasty really quickly! I also hate that these number men use military profiles so frequently. Being the wife of a retired soldier, that bit can really annoy me. I have to share this funny story with you now…back when my husband and I were dating, he was an Army recruiter. I received some scam email that claimed they were the “Army Recruitement Department” and the misspellings were so funny that I jokingly forwarded the email to my husband’s commander telling him they needed some spelling lessons in the “Army Recruitement Department”. I chuckled and forgot about it until a few months later when I received a response from the Central Intelligence Division of the Army thanking me for bringing this scam to their attention and informing me that a complete CID investigation was underway to put an end to it! So I guess sometimes reporting these things actually can get results!
Yes! Scammers should at least respect us enough to treat us as intelligent beings, now they’re just annoying. Smarter scammers would at least be more entertaining…
Anyway, good for you for reporting the ‘recruitement department’!
I share your exasperation with these poor, pathetic souls.
The downside of sharing. It’s sad because there are lots of lonely people just too willing to hook up with these creeps.
It never occurred to me that anyone would actually fall for these scams. Seriously??? I mean, we’ve been reading about all sorts of Internet scams for years and know how to protect ourselves. But I suppose there must be people who fall for these, why else would they keep popping up…
Hi, Tina. I have a friend in New Zealand whose landlord has a brain injury. A “woman” from the US is “romancing” him and has already gotten him to send money. My friend has tried to intervene, but with the brain injury he cannot get through. Unfortunately the man’s family is not really keeping an eye on him. There are vulnerable people all around, right? I actually believe we can all be vulnerable at one time or another. For most of us it would take a higher level of scamming to fool us, as you make clear in your piece, but, hey, it’s possible. Great piece. Thank you.
Tiina, I’m in complete agreement with you about the annoyance of the “number men” and how frustrating it is that IG doesn’t do a better job of stopping them. I’ve even wrote a blog post about IG romance scams. All your points are good but you seem to be missing one point. These are bogus IG accounts created by scammers who are looking convince unsuspecting souls into giving them money or worse, access to identity information. And while we see them as “men” targeting women 40+, there are accounts with profile photos of women who target men as well. It is a business for these scammers. They tend to follow boilerplate scripts and they are likely not based in America or Europe no matter what the info in their profiles say. I know this because despite my efforts to remove as many of those followers as I can, IG reports that 25.7% of my followers are from Nigeria (44.6% are from USA).
I didn’t miss that point; I assumed everyone knew it. It never even occurred to me that there might be people who didn’t know about these types of scams. I mean, these days it only takes a couple of minutes to find out where the photos have been stolen from, and scamming the scammers is practically a hobby (judging by all the stories on the Internet about people who start talking to scammers only to feed them all sort of bogus information). I was simply being sarcastic because these scammers don’t even try to come up with anything remotely more entertaining than the standard 8 photos with a cute kid and a fancy career. Yes, I know, I have a weird sense of humour, but you have to get your kicks where you can…
Hi, Wow! I wasn’t aware of the number men. I don’t post anything on Instagram so I never knew about this. It’s sickening. I know there are all kinds of scams out there but this one is new to me.
Yes, they follow middle-aged women and try to make contact. All of these accounts are fake, of course, with photos stolen from someone else’s Facebook or Instagram account or even from news sites. I can’t tell you how many times ‘Keanu Reeves 1234’ or something similar has started following me…
One of the most irritating things for me is the idea that middle-aged women are so desperate that they can be fooled like this. I’ve been followed by loads of the number men (love that!) since I started posting on IG about a year ago. But recently I have even more “fellows” after me, and it’s only reading your piece that I’m realizing it may be connected to a new profile picture that shows my age more accurately. I’m 55, but my previous picture, though recent, made me look younger — lighting, low resolution. I liked it so I used it. But when it became clear that some people, real followers, thought I was much younger, I didn’t really like that and put a new picture up. Though, as I write this, I am wondering if they can access my birthday? Do you know? I mean, they are not really scrolling through profiles looking for older women, are they?
Lol, I just had a RASH of followers join, all men, all with numbers after their names, and, after looking at their profiles, wondered if I was attracting them somehow. I even have a Saudi Prince! Lol. I Googled and found your blog post. It must be my new avatar, I’m gray-haired. I’m going to switch my avatar to a painting to see if the Numbers Men amount changes. I’m not offended or bothered by them, (although it feels the same as having too many slugs in my garden,) I’m just curious about what brought them to my account.
All middle-aged women have these followers. I had to disable DMs on my Instagram accounts because of them; I got tired of deleting the messages. As you said, slugs in the garden…
I block them too and I am annoyed. I don’t want my IG account filled with scam followers. It takes me time and I don’t want to spend time on that. Reporting these fake accounts to IG doesn’t help. Just more work. I heard that the next step will be lesbian scam accounts. Pfff.
I’m so tired of having to get rid of them, again and again. I still keep reporting all the ‘generals’ and ‘surgeons’, though. And all the ‘Keanu Reeves’ impersonators. And yes, I’ve had a few number women (looking for ‘a serious relationship’) following me, too. What annoys me most, however, is that I had to disable DMs on all of my 3 Instagram accounts.
I am not familiar with number men neither have I noticed. I found it very strange though. I don’t know whether to laugh on this or cry lol.