If you’re not sure how to spot fake online profiles from real ones, then welcome to the club! It is becoming more and more difficult to spot fake profiles as they are becoming more and more carefully crafted to deceive those who are targeted and more and more common.
In fact, around 1 in 10 online dating profiles are fake, with “romance scams” garnering nearly 50 million dollars per year in total.
All told, 60% of all online profiles are either inactive or faked.
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If you’ve signed up for an online dating service, it’s likely that you’ve been messaged by some fake online profiles. They’ll tell you everything you want to hear, but it’s always at a price.
Whether it’s subscribing to their band’s fan page or wiring money to that Nigerian prince, it’s important to know how to protect yourself from fake online profiles.
Making sense of fake online profiles
It’s the stuff of nightmares, fake profiles scams are the far opposite of what you see on the commercials (Happy couples dancing to the Match.com jingle).
Fake online profiles are much more common on free online dating sites.
Not only in terms of scams and cons but real individuals, a whopping 80% of online daters admit that they lie about one or more things in their online profiles.
Another study has shown an even more shocking number, stating that 90% of users fiddle with their facts on their online profiles.
From white lies to identity theft, fake online profiles have become an epidemic in the world of online dating.
To escape the bad and find the good profiles, start by perfecting your own online profile, learn to spot the bad ones, and don’t forget to always be cautious when it comes to online dating.
How to spot fake online profiles
There are a lot of “red flags” that can indicate a fake profile and that someone is a scammer rather than a potential romantic partner.
If the profile or the person behind it is guilty of any of the following, it may be a fake profile and part of an online dating scam:
1. Fake online profile power words
These keywords found in the majority of fake online profiles include the words Catholic, widowed, female, Ph.D., Nigeria, engineer, self-employed, and Royalty.
If you see any of the above words emphasized on a profile there is a chance that it belongs to a scammer and is fake.
2. Nonsensical messages
Drunk messages are one thing, but fake online profiles run through robotic messaging systems tend to make little to no sense.
Most of the fake profiles belong to either robots or non-English speakers.
According to a study, many romance scammers originate in Western Africa in countries like Nigeria or Ghana.
If you can’t carry on a conversation with an online dating site user, that should be a red flag even if their profile is real!
3. They only have one photo
Photos are one of the most important aspects of your online profile. Having only one photo can be a major red flag, especially if the person is extremely attractive in that one photo.
Fake online profiles are usually designed to be appealing so that people are much more likely to engage with them.
Be wary of that guy you swear you saw in a Calvin Klein campaign or that woman who should be a Victoria’s Secret model.
4. They have empty profiles
It’s important to read through profiles carefully.
Not only will you spot red flags in real profiles, but empty profiles or profiles that might as well be empty often belong to a fake online profile.
This is also why it’s important to keep your own profile in tip top shape. High-quality profiles are appealing to real people.
5. Empty social networks
If you genuinely want to keep only close friends in your social profiles, then there’s no judgment here.
But that bikini-clad model with, you guessed it, only one photo and 60 friends on Facebook is probably fake.
6. They’re famous or royal
Celebrities, princes, and archdukes can all be found through online dating sites. Unfortunately, they are not generally real celebrities, princes, or archdukes.
Most commonly found are fake online profiles claiming to be African princes.
7. They’re way too forward or flirty
Many online dating scams come in the form of porn and prostitution.
If you’re receiving steamy messages from someone you’ve never met or spoken to, don’t be surprised if they ask you to pay for their photos or to enter their website soon thereafter.
8. They request your personal information
Whether they’re trying to steal your credit card number or your identity, an online dating profile requesting your full name, address, phone number, or social security number is not someone you want to continue talking to.
Protecting yourself from fake profiles and scams
There are a million things that fake online profiles might be after. So what steps can you take towards protecting yourself from attracting attention from the fakes and from falling for them?
First and foremost, start by improving your own profile. A higher quality profile with some high-quality photos will attract a higher percentage of quality messages.
To protect yourself from harm when meeting someone new, you can run your own background checks on potential dates or on profiles you suspect to be fake using third party services you trust.
Finally, and most importantly, never share your personal information with anyone online.
The anonymous nature of online dating websites has opened up a whole world for cheats, liars, thieves, scammers, and con men and women. So much so, that they now belong to the umbrella term of “catfish”.
There’s no surefire way to get fakes to stop contacting you, but if you learn to spot them you lose the risk of contacting one first and you’re able to remove the threat at first contact.
Lastly, never underestimate the power of a good first impression for yourself and the profiles you browse through.