If you’ve spent any time at all on dating sites, you know that not every profile is real. Some are bots set up to lure people to other sites, while others are real people pretending to be someone desirable so that they can entice you into giving them anything from your contact info to your bank account. People are taken in by these scams every day, and at best, they’re annoying. So how can you tell whether the hottie sending you a wink is really who they say they are? Here are some tips to help you spot the fakes (most of these are courtesy of DateMyPet.com).
1. If they send you a message, wink or other communication within the first few minutes of you signing up for the site, be careful. Real people aren’t usually online every moment, flirting with new sign-ups the second they appear. There’s always the chance that this potential mate happened to see your profile right after you made it, but the more realistic answer is that it’s a bot set up to reach out to new users quickly.
2. If they ask you to come find them on another site, think twice. Many a hottie has sent a message to an online dater that says something like, “Hey, I’m usually on this other site instead, come see me there!” More often than not, these are fake profiles designed to drive web traffic to porn sites or even competing dating sites. The hottie in question probably doesn’t exist at all.
3. If they send you messages even though your profile is incomplete and/or you have no photo uploaded yet, beware. Think about it: would you start eagerly messaging someone who doesn’t even have a photo available yet? Does that sound like prime relationship material? Probably not. Again, it could be automated, or it could be someone hoping to catch you for a scam before you’ve had time to meet the “real” people on the site.
4. If they send you messages that are super-forward or poorly-written, watch out. Men are typically more forward, but rarely will a woman looking for love send a hot-and-sexy explicit message to a guy she hasn’t gotten to know yet (unless she has ulterior motives). Also, messages that are in poor English and riddled with spelling or grammar mistakes could indicate that the person behind that profile isn’t a cute divorcee from Iowa, but rather a scammer from, say, Eastern Europe or Nigeria. Even more red flags should pop up if the person sending you the badly-written messages claims to have a masters or doctorate degree (which scammers disproportionately claim, for some reason).
5. If they ask you for your personal info, use care. It’s not uncommon for people who meet on dating sites to exchange phone numbers or email addresses to communicate further, but if the other person is really pushy to get that info, or if they ask for your mailing address or even (seriously) your bank account login, they’re probably looking to mine and sell your information and/or steal as much as they can from you. There’s no reason to ask for that sort of information through a dating site.
6. If they have a sob story that they can’t wait to share, step back. Not every scammer is obvious about asking for your bank information; they aren’t all claiming to be princes from Africa. Some of them appear to be real people (often located overseas, see the Eastern Europe thing above) who happen to be looking for love. But then, as you talk to them, it quickly comes out that they need money for some urgent personal issue (hospitalization, dying family member, emergency trip, etc). They’ll weave a sad tale and ask if you, the newfound friend with whom they have such a deep connection, could loan them the money they need. They promise to pay you back. They are so, so grateful for the help. They swear they are legit. We hope you can see where this is going. While it sounds like an obvious con, it’s amazing how many people fall for this because “She just seemed so sincere” or “We video chatted, and he was seriously upset and in need.” Do not send money, bank info or anything else to someone you met on the internet.
Bottom line: Don’t let the prospect of a hot date cloud your otherwise good judgment. Be safe!