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If you follow the link she provides, the website asks you for your credit card number — y'know, so it can do a background check to make sure you're not a criminal. My favorite scam: One individual tried to get me to buy him or her virtual currency in online games like Maple Story before agreeing to hand over contact information. I decided I would have to take the initiative, so in addition to posting my own ads, I started responding to every ad from any woman who seemed at all interesting.

I cast a wide net in my searches, looking up posts by straight or bisexual women between the ages of 18 and 35 who lived anywhere in Chicagoland — a large metropolitan area that's home to close to five million females.

Many people use Craigslist to find roommates, cheap furniture, used cars or part-time jobs. I decided to dive into Craigslist's "Casual Encounters" — a section made for no-strings hookups — to see if any of what I assumed about that virtual place was true.

Is it populated entirely by perverted sexual deviants, serial killers, prostitutes and scammers as rumors insist?

Well, it's obviously a euphemism for something else.

Many of the ads that weren't from scammers were from prostitutes.

But it's not a stretch to say that even if you abstain from the goal, spending a week on Casual Encounters can teach you a lot about human beings and how the web has changed how we pursue one of our most essential and important desires.

They advertise "French lessons" — an odd thing to advertise under "Casual Encounters," don't you think?I typically wrote two or three paragraph replies and matched the tone of their own messages, then attached a couple of tasteful photos of myself.I didn't get a single reply from an actual prospect this way.The stereotype is that women are interested in relationships, and that only men would be interested in totally casual sex, right? In fact, I was inspired to write this article when a friend told me many of her female friends had owned up to using it. I was only getting messages from gay or bisexual men!Over the next couple of days, I actually received a lot of posts from women. To be honest, I doubted the veracity of the claims.One day my message was intended to be sweet and normal; I suggested starting with drinks and fun conversation to see if we had chemistry, then going back to my place to cuddle on the couch with a movie and see where that led. In yet another, I explicitly detailed sexual activities and used very aggressive language.Ultimately, only the "sweet and normal" was successful, even though very few posts by women had that same tone (more on that later). Most were scams, some were men, some were prostitutes, and just one was legit.It turned out that most of the ads were fakes from scammers, and quite a few fell into another category all together.Prostitution is what made Craigslist controversial. There's technically another section for that — "Adult Services," formerly "Erotic Services" — but that's not the only place you'll find practitioners of the world's oldest profession.I began with a listing announcing myself to the women of my city.Each day I tried a different approach to see what would be most effective, though I never lied or posted fake photographs.

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