Online dating is a great way to get out of your shell and find romance, but what stops many people from trying it out for themselves is the fear of encountering fake dating profiles. How can you differentiate the genuine from the fraud? Read on!
What You Need To Know About Romance Scams
Annually, 15,000 reports of scams happening on online dating sites are filed. The amount is growing, and staggeringly alarming. How are we, as a nation, allowing ourselves to fall victim to these cruel liars? In truth, there are some ways to notice if an account is fake, and protect yourself from being scammed.
Romance scams are when someone uses love and attraction to try and get money from a vulnerable person through the internet. Usually, these happen in other countries, Nigeria being the most prominent culprit of this. Avoiding encountering a scammer is the best way to avoid online dating scams.
13 Ways To Spot Fake Dating Profiles
If you’ve jumped into the online dating game for the first time or if you’re a seasoned veteran of it, you need to know what to look out for when trying to spot fake profiles of PoF, Match, Zoosk, and other popular dating sites out there. Scammers can appear anywhere, but they tend to all share several of the same red-flags to be on high alert for.
Pay attention to these 13 ways fake dating profiles can be spotted from a mile away, and avoid interaction with the fitting accounts at all costs!
1. Their profile is bare
Fake dating profiles are done quickly, and they are usually quite underdeveloped. The bio and question sections will be brief, if filled out at all, and there will usually be key elements missing from the information required. Perhaps their age, location, education level, or even career sections are left blank or vague.
A real person puts lots of effort into the creation of their profile, sometimes even hiring an outsider professional to compose and edit it for them. Scammers have little use for detailed accounts, so the bare minimum will be provided here.
2. All the pictures are professional
A scammer won’t upload real pictures of themselves, but instead will use stock images or other easily found attractive people. These pictures will look posed, shopped, and perfect, and usually a scam account will have only 1 or 2 of them. Other times, a scammer may pull pictures directly off of a porn site gallery, or other models accounts.
To see if the pictures on a potential scam account have been posted or used before, perform a reverse image search on Google. Finding the origin of the images can help you determine the validity of the account as well as assess a potential threat.
3. Lots of grammar and spelling mistakes
Most scam artists are not from America, nor have they ever been. Instead, these scams take place in Nigeria, Russia, Ukraine, and other countries. Fraudsters will attempt to convince at times they are American, and maybe just traveling, but the broken English and problems with the language are a dead give-away.
Of course, not every foreign user on a dating site is a scammer. Many real people use Match and other sites to find true love, but consistent broken English and common, repetitive grammar and spelling mistakes when teamed up with several other items from this list are pretty big hints you could be a target for a scam.
4. Little to no personal information
People love to talk about themselves. Sometimes, too much so. A scammer, however, is the opposite. They’ll deflect personal questions and backstory and instead focus on you, complimenting you, and learning private details about you to help further their plot. When a scammer does speak about themselves, it’s to garner sympathy.
Scammers who don’t have much to say about their family, interests, job, or history are the worst ones to come across. They want to stay anonymous and unknown, and will often feed you lies or retaliate when you press to find out more about them. Be wary of these little information givers.
5. The messages they send are generic and rehearsed
Little originality can be found within scam and fake profiles on dating sites. Their stories, messages, and accounts are often reused and recycled from platform to platform. When they reach out with their initial message, it’s dry and void of personality. Most of their conversations will be this way, as well.
This generic vibe carries into their names, pictures, and answers to questions. Sometimes, with limited English, their response to questions will be confused and misused. Other times, they’ll have a set script they rely on, and you’ll notice the same phrases mentioned more than once during various conversations.
6. They tell a lot of contradicting or strange stories
Most frauds have many schemes going on at a time, so they won’t remember little details they tell you. Maybe at first, they said they were in Ukraine for a mission project, but a week late it has changed to being there for a dying family member. Other times, you’ll notice their very core personality has odd changes, from age to career.
Consistency is easy… if you’re a real person. Fake profiles have too many lies to keep up with, so contradicting stories, answers, and explanations are a bad sign. Strange stories and gibberish reasoning and excuses can also be a sign of scams.
7. There is always a personal drama happening
Scammers will use any means necessary to solicit sympathy and extract payment for their various woes. At times, they may have to go to drastic measures by spinning a story of personal drama sometimes claiming to be in situations of danger or abuse. They’ll say you’re the only one who can help them… if you only send money.
If the only time you hear about the personal life of your online chatter is when their life will fall apart. Sometimes, a potential date may share a personal trauma they’re struggling with, but it’s for support and comfort, not compensation. New bad experiences happening several times a week is someone manipulating you.
8. Asking for other contact methods
Since online dating profiles have records, and because many charge for premium service, a scammer hopes to move off of the app or site and onto emailing quickly. They’ll use excuses like not having the money for an account or having slow internet, maybe being too busy for the service, to try and get your personal contact information.
This is dangerous on a few accounts. First, this will open the door for them to try and get into your private accounts by using your email address. Second, they will use this more intimate, private means of communication to get closer and ask for your funding.
9. No connected social media accounts
Not all dating profiles have a connected Facebook or Instagram account, but some platforms will offer and encourage you to log in through them. Zoosk is a prime example of that. A scam account won’t have, or mention any other outside accounts. They’ll use only their fraud dating profile.
On its own, this isn’t such a bad sign. Especially with elderly dating, Facebook and other social media accounts are far less common, and not everyone wants that to be public knowledge to a dating profile. This is just one little red flag that could mean something bigger when added to many other bad omens.
10. Not enough flaws
Have you ever met one of those “perfect people”? Great job, attractive, great life, great education, no major personality flaws… and you find yourself wondering what the catch is? It’s simple; they’re not real people. On dating sites, those who try to come across as a dream come true are usually the opposite.
Scammers want you to fall for them quickly, so they can manipulate and get their money and bail. Their praise and perfection will seem exciting at first, but after awhile, you’ll begin to wonder if they have flaws. If it’s too good to be true, that’s because it is.
11. Seems far too interested quickly
We all want someone to like us, and that’s the real goal of using dating sites. You shouldn’t be paranoid and suspicious of everyone who shows interest in you. Doing so will hurt your self esteem a lot, and may make online dating stressful… but you do need to be careful if someone seems extra exuberant in their interest within the first few messages.
Real people are subtle, but scammers will be intense. They’ll confess their love for you, speak of marriage, and a future together sometimes before the day even ends after first meeting them. This is not regular behavior for most people. If their interest seems very intense very quickly, you should be careful.
12. Your vulnerability is targeted
Divorced or widowed men and women are the most commonly targeted, especially if the separation was recent. A scammer will mention this frequently, perhaps to try and remind their target of how troubling their loneliness will be, and has been so far. They will extort and mention your pain regarding this, and make it a focus point to manipulate you.
In general, nice people don’t do this. Your divorce is not a knife to be twisted to suck your bank account dry, and it shouldn’t be treated as such. If you notice that someone you’re talking with is frequently mentioning your divorce or other vulnerable subjects, be on the look out for scam potential.
13. Asking for money
Even if a scam artist has done an amazing job so far by avoiding any of the obvious red flags listed before, asking for money is a surefire sign of a fraud. Real, honest people don’t ask strangers they don’t know or met for money, even in dire financial situations, and they don’t manipulate a person’s heart to get it.
If there is a real person on the other end of the screen and this romance scam isn’t as malicious as the general occurrence, you should still turn and run. A potential date who is willing to scam you out of your money and take advantage of generosity is not worth your time!
What Do You Do Next?
If you’ve identified fake dating profiles or fear you are a victim of a scammer, it’s important to first cease all contact with the user. If you confront them, they’ll probably just be hurtful and disappear anyway. You’ll save yourself heartache by just cutting them off cold turkey.
Next, report the scammer and fake dating profile. If you use Match or another paid service, contact their customer support. Get screenshots of any incriminating behavior, and block their account. With evidence and proof, you can protect others from falling for the fraud.
Fake dating accounts are usually found and flagged by good dating sites, but not all will be as vigilante in this pursuit. Sometimes, it’s up to us to stay protected and be there to do the same for others.
Online dating is a way to connect with others from all sorts of places and interests and lifestyles. However, it’s not always safe. Romance scams affect several thousand of online users a year and can utterly derail a life, break trust for good, and hurt financial security.
Identifying a fake dating profile and spotting these scammers first is part of our responsibility as online daters. We need to be aware of our actions to help prevent becoming a victim. The 13 signs that a dating profile is fake on PoF, Match, and any other website will help guide you through your online experience.
Reading up on different types of romance scams, ways to deal with them, and the safest dating sites can also help you stay protected against these ruthless liars. You shouldn’t have to live with constant paranoia about who you speak with online.