The popularity of online dating apps like Tinder and Bumble has grown exponentially. They’re a fantastic tool for individuals to find dates with others interested in making a connection. But can you really make a meaningful connection if you’re not meeting them face-to-face straight away?
While some may argue it facilitates a relationship built on an emotional connections, fake profiles are a serious threat. Spotting a phony profile before it’s too late is a great way to avoid any future hassles. So what red flags should you watch out for? And just why do people create fake dating profiles anyway?
Why Do People Make Fake Dating Profiles?
People make fake dating profiles for several different reasons. Sometimes it’s because of their own insecurities.
Most users feel slightly awkward when joining online dating services. Lots of users create fake profiles to “surf through” their options before committing to an account. Uploading pictures of puppies or flowers doesn’t reveal anything personal about the user, and it’s unlikely they’ll match up with too many users, but it does allow them to check out the service.
Other times, the people hiding behind fraudulent accounts have more sinister intentions for the people they contact. In fact, it’s not uncommon at all for fake bot profiles to be on Tinder or fake Facebook accounts to reach out to seemingly vulnerable people.
Sometimes, the “person” behind the profile isn’t even human at all. Dating profiles are riddled with bots trying to steal your information or trick you into downloading malicious software.
At the very least, these imposters waste your time and effort. If you aren’t careful, fake profiles can cause significant problems in your life. Luckily, there are some easy ways to spot fake profiles before you find yourself a victim of a catfishing scam or a malicious bot.
What Are Signs of a Fake Profile?
While there is no surefire way to spot a fake profile from a real one, there are some red flags you should look out for.
Keep these things in mind before you plan to meet up with anyone you connect with on a dating app.
They Only Have One Photo
Many fake profiles are sloppily prepared. They only have one or two photos, and the bare minimum filled out on their profile. Sometimes, fake users forgo pictures of people altogether and opt for images of hobbies or animals.
Although some just really value their privacy on such apps, others purposely keep information to a minimum because their profiles are fabricated.
Keep this tip in mind when you try to find the perfect profile picture for your own account too.
Their Photo(s) Seem Too Perfect
While there are certainly models who use dating profiles, it’s suspicious for profile pictures to look like photoshoots. Be sure your prospective date isn’t just using stock images. A quick reverse search can let you know if the picture is on other sites.
They Have Multiple Profiles
Using stock images or model headshots is a key technique scammers use to entice their victims. It isn’t uncommon for scammers to make multiple accounts using the same picture or for different scammers to base their fake profiles on the same model.
While using the same pictures on different platforms isn’t uncommon, it’s suspicious when you see repeats of a picture on the same site. This is especially true when the profiles all have different names, cities, or ages.
They Send You Links
Sending funny memes or interesting articles back and forth is pretty common when trying to get to know someone. However, if the person prompts you to sign-up for anything or shares a link you don’t recognize, it’s better not to click on it.
Sometimes these links are used in phishing scams or to distribute malicious software onto your devices.
They Have a Suspicious Number of Connections
While dating profiles don’t disclose who users interact with, social media platforms offer some insight into the connections a profile has. If someone reaches out to you on Instagram or Facebook and has thousands (or barely any) friends or followers, it is an indication the account is new or used for spamming purposes.
Their Conversations Are Incoherent
You should be able to hold “normal” conversations with your connections. Chats riddled with significantly poor grammar or disjointed conversations are probably not who they claim to be from.
Sometimes, this is due to translation errors when scamming efforts come from outsourced workers in other countries. Other times, this incoherence is the result of buggy bot coding.
They Can’t Video Chat
An easy way to determine if you are actually chatting with a real person or not is by convincing your potential date to actually chat with you via webcam. Video chats are a safe alternative to meeting up with someone to get to know them better.
Most laptops, computers, and smart devices come equipped with some sort of camera that enables users to make video calls. If someone frequently refuses to video chat despite you two talking for a significant time, it may be that they have something to hide.
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Although some celebrities interact with their friends through social media platforms, they typically don’t reach out to fans they stumble upon online.
Don’t be too surprised when it turns out that Zac Efron or Emma Stone wasn’t actually writing to you through dating platforms.
What Should I Do if My Match Faked Their Profile?
Typically, nothing bad comes from matching with a fake profile. These users will see only the information publicly available to anyone you match with. You do need to worry about the type of information you leak to them through your messages.
But you still can’t trust them. Do not click on any strange links people send you and never send a stranger money or gifts.
Delete them from your profile as soon as you realize they are fake.
Should I Be Worried About Online Dating?
Online dating is complicated, but it can be a lot of fun. It’s a fantastic way for people to meet potential partners on your own terms. You shouldn’t be afraid of online dating.
Instead, make sure you take sensible precautions so that you stay safe. Remember red flags before connecting with anyone online.
Do you want to survive looking for love online? Here are some valuable tips from one half of an online dating success story.
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