How to Know if the Dating Profile You’re Swooning over Is Fake

Have you ever heard the phrase, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”? Well, you can take that phrase to the bank when approaching online dating profiles. Here’s the harsh truth: online dating is a beautiful place to meet people from all over your area. It opens your horizons and your options up to thousands of people. But because of the many choices you’re open to when you start online dating, you’re also available to multiple scams, bots, and catfishers.

There is an entire show dedicated to people who have lied about themselves online and gotten caught. Unfortunately, because online dating is a little more distanced than dating someone in person, people have taken that distance and run with it, creating false profiles, making up lies, and even scamming other dating site users.

If you’re wondering how to avoid people who might be fake or you’ve seen a profile that’s almost too perfect, here are some of our sure-fire signs to check for to know if the person is real or not.

Why You Need to Catch a Fake

While most online dating profiles are authentic, according to the FBI, about 10% of the profiles you see online are fake. While that may seem like a small percentage, it has led to over $50 million lost to online scams or con artists. Early last year, Netflix came out with a documentary called The Tinder Swindler which focused entirely on a man who scammed several women on the app by gaslighting them. Other people have gotten their Venmo or bank accounts hacked because they shared too much private information online with the wrong kind of person.

But even if you’re not dealing with a hacker or money issues, it’s good to know how to spot a fake profile on a dating site, no matter what. Jonathan Bennett, a relationship and dating expert, defines a phony profile as “Anywhere the person is misrepresenting their true identity.” A person could have a fake profile if they’re using fake pictures, talking about something in their profile that they didn’t do, mentioning they work somewhere that they don’t, or any number of other elements that allow them to misrepresent themselves in an untruthful way.

It can also be difficult to spot a fake dating profile because there are a million different ways someone can misrepresent themselves online, and there are a million reasons why someone might want to create a fake profile. They might want attention, money, to mess with you, to market a product, or any number of other reasons.

It can also be challenging to spot a fake dating profile because, often, there is an actual person on the other end of the profile, even if they’re not anything like what they’re presenting themselves to be online.

So yes, even though there aren’t too many fake profiles online, it is good to be aware of them when they come across your screen and to know how to avoid them.

Check the Photos

The first thing people look at on dating sites is the photos. Whether or not ‘looks matter’ to you, someone’s profile photo is the first thing you see when you see their profile, and it’s the thing that leaves the most lasting impression on you.

But it can also be highly beneficial to check out someone’s photos so you can see whether or not they’re real. While it’s relatively easy for a scammer to find a few similar Google Images and call it a day, it’s less typical for those Google Images to be enough to make an entire profile out of. If you’ve come across a profile with one or two magnificent photos, but that’s it, the profile you’re looking at is more than likely fake.

According to dating experts, most profiles have more than two photos. There could be an exception made, and someone may have just gotten lazy when making their profile, so don’t make the two-picture rule too much of a thing, but raise a beige flag for it. Also, if the two photos are posed and look too good to be true, that is an excellent indicator that the person on the profile isn’t legitimate.

There is a way for you to search a photo database and make sure that the photo you’re seeing isn’t a stock photo, but if you don’t want to overcomplicate things, keep your guard up.

If the photos on the profile are against a white wall or a white backsplash, that might also indicate that the person you’re messaging isn’t real. Most people don’t have a proper white wall to pose in front of, and even if they did, that’s not usually the picture they would choose for their profile shot. That’s a good indication that whoever made the profile was searching stock images, found one, and copied and pasted it immediately.

The last thing you should check out is if the photos look very posed or professional. While I’ve run across multiple profiles where the guy has chosen a headshot or a professional work photo as his profile picture, he’ll usually also include a few personality shots into the mix to balance it all out and allow people to get a glimpse of who he really is as well. But if the profile only has one photo on it and it’s a professional shot from work, that isn’t always a good sign.

Read Their Profile

Every article we write that has to do with making the perfect profile talks about filling out your entire bio because otherwise, people might think you’re a bot or a scammer. Spoiler alert: if they don’t have anything in their profile, they might be a necessary left-swipe.

While this isn’t gospel either, and some people might just be very lazy, if someone has absolutely nothing in their bio, you shouldn’t swipe on them.

If their profile seems off or strange, you can swipe on them — but proceed with hesitation. Many people say that if they have grammatical errors in their profile, they might be fake. As someone who was an English major in college and is now a writer, most of the profiles you see online will have grammatical errors. Now, if their syntax is entirely off, and their profile reads as though a computer wrote it for them, that’s a red flag. But if they mess up a comma placement or mistake if it should be ‘I’ or ‘me,’ I think we can all agree to let that one slide.

Online Dating App with Heart Symbol

Bennett says, “If the wording and the grammar on the profile seem off… it is a sign you could be dealing with a fake or a bot.” There are computer programs created with the sole goal of scamming dating site users. These computer programs will try to get you to share personal information or click on links that will install viruses into your phone or computer.

Another thing to look out for is what the person is putting on their profile. If it’s images of wealth and their profile talks about travel or alludes to how much money they have, that’s a red flag. That’s usually how people can get scammed online because they’ll fall for the allure of wealth and then get dragged into the person’s scheme. And if they are not a scammer but just a regular person bragging about how much money they have online, that’s also a red flag, and they’re probably not a person you should swipe right on in general.

You’ll also want to make sure their profile isn’t targeted towards a product and that they’re not talking about the product in your messages. Often, many bots or paid workers will try to market their items on dating sites. Bennett warns, “If the profile is focused on sending you elsewhere to contact the person in the profile, like a website, it’s likely a fake trying to scam you or market to you.”

For the most part, if you’re at all weirded out when you read someone’s profile or if something doesn’t sit right with you, keep swiping. There’s no need to waste your time on someone who is possibly a scam. If your guard is already up, your messages and time spent trying to assess your relationship will more than likely be more like trying to figure out if they’re a bot, not you trying to forge a relationship with them.

Ask if They Want to FaceTime

If you’re talking to someone and they start to sound shady, or you’re not too sure about them after looking at their profile and noticing some red flags, ask if they’d be okay to hop on a FaceTime call with you or even meet in person.

While we would prefer if you opted for FaceTime because it’s safer and there’s no chance of harm coming to you, if you choose to meet someone in person and they’re acting a little sketchy, we do recommend you meet each other in a public place and hopefully not at night or when it’s dark. And this goes for men meeting women just as much as it does for women meeting men. If a person’s dangerous, it doesn’t matter their size or gender, so always be careful. Also, just because their profile says they look a certain way, are a certain person, or even identify as a particular gender doesn’t mean they actually are. If they’re a scammer, there’s no telling who’s behind that profile, and it’s a wise idea to keep your guard up and ensure you’re being safe and protected.

If you choose to meet them or FaceTime them, how they react to that proposal is telling as to who they are and if they have nothing to hide. More often than not, if they are a scammer, they’ll stand you up or completely ghost you at this stage because they won’t want to get caught. Also, if they are a computer program, they won’t be able to communicate with you on the phone because they aren’t real.

Emily Pfannenstiel, LPC, a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationships, says, “If you are speaking on a dating site, the assumption is that you are planning to meet up and go on a date at some point.” Asking someone on a date or asking them to talk in person isn’t a crazy idea, and if they start to act strange because you ask them out, you might want to back away and reassess your connection with them. Even if they’re not someone with bad intentions or a scammer, if they wish to talk to you in limbo in the dating site messages section, that’s a little strange.

Dating sites, no matter how successful they might be, are all designed to be deleted, and if the person you’re talking to doesn’t seem to want to take the next step and actually meet you, they’re either not worth it, or they’re trying to hide something. Either way, don’t waste another minute on them.

Check Their Social Media

This is another excellent tool to check if you’re not sure whether the profile you’re seeing is a fake one or not. While only some people link to their social media on their dating profiles, most people are relatively easy to find if you do some light research.

In the end, if you know what they generally look like, some key factors about them, and their name, you should be able to find them on at least one social media outlet.

I’ve also seen countless men put their Instagram handles or TikTok usernames on their dating profiles because it gets their accounts more attention.

While it’s not necessarily bad if they don’t have all of their social media accounts linked on their dating profile, if you look for them and can’t find a profile that matches their pictures, you might have found a red flag.

There are multiple ways to check on social media whether the person you’re talking to is authentic. First, check out platforms like Instagram and Facebook. More than likely, if they are a real person, they’ll have one of these. You can also check Twitter or TikTok, but their username might be harder to find, as not everyone uses their real name on these platforms.

If you want to do some harder digging, you can see if they’ve listed a company they work for or where they went to school. If you do a quick LinkedIn search for their company and can’t find their name under the company’s employees, or better yet, can’t even find their company on LinkedIn, maybe it’s time to consider running. You can do something similar on LinkedIn when searching for school alums.

Also, if you’re matching with someone who lives in the same town as you, you might have a mutual connection or someone who went to the college or high school the profile announces they went to. Reach out to that mutual connection and see if that person is who they claim. I know I’ve dated guys from my hometown, and I knew they were real because I come from a tiny community where everyone knows everyone.

What to Do When You Catch Them

Let me tell you, dating sites have blocking and banning on lock. Most of these apps have seen their fair share of scandals, so they have several programs and servers in place to ensure their users don’t get scammed or feel unsafe while using the app.

As someone who is permanently banned on Tinder for putting her Venmo (I wasn’t trying to scam anyone, I just wanted people to send me money for being pretty, for your information), I know that the second Tinder or any of the big online dating companies smell anything fishy on your profile, they will lock it down in a matter of seconds. The person will be banned for life.

If you notice someone’s profile is a little off, or you can sense a scam coming, report the user’s profile, and the dating site will take care of it. No one wants you to feel unsafe on apps, and thankfully, most of these online platforms take their user’s safety incredibly seriously and will often go the extra mile to make sure that there isn’t anyone dangerous or even off-putting stinking up their app.

Bennett suggests, “If you’re pretty sure the person [you’re talking to] is a fake, then I would recommend reporting them using whatever mechanism is available.” He says, “Scammers, marketers, and other fakes take away from the true purpose of dating apps and make finding love that much harder.”

The main point of dating sites is to have fun and feel safe, hopefully even to meet your partner, so companies will often stop at nothing to make sure that’s a possibility for you.

If you ever feel uncomfortable or even uncertain about someone’s online presence, it’s better to be safe than sorry and go ahead and report them.