Weeding out fact from fiction when it comes to online dating can be tricky.
Stats from market data site Gitnux reveal that while 53% of all online dating profiles contain some false information, around 10% of the people you encounter aren’t who they say they are at all.
Just recently, Desperate Housewives actress Teri Hatcher revealed her dating profile had been deleted after it was thought to be fake.
During an appearance on Getting Grilled With Curtis Stone, she told the host: “You know, I thought, ‘I’m gonna say to the universe that I am open and vulnerable, and I’m putting myself out there’. That’s what I thought my gesture of joining that Hinge app would be. And then they kicked me off…
“They thought I was pretending to be Teri Hatcher,” she added.
Luckily for Hatcher, her account was reinstated. But, how can you tell whether the person you’re chatting to online is the real deal?
Navigating the world of modern dating is not always easy, and documentaries such as Netflix’s The Tinder Swindler highlight just how devastating it can be to be conned by a dating scammer – sometimes robbing people of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Relationship expert and founder of dating app Chapter 2, Nicky Wake, warns: “Dating scammers are individuals who create fake online personas to deceive and manipulate others for financial gain or personal satisfaction.
“They prey on the vulnerability of those seeking love and companionship, often exploiting emotions to achieve their goals. The common tactics they have that lure people in are false identities, and scammers create elaborate backstories and use stolen photos to establish trust.”
While financial scams are one thing, some people might be catfishing (pretending to be someone else) on dating sites for other reasons, too.
So, what are the warning signs to watch out for when talking to a new match on a dating app?
Refusal to meet in person
If your date is refusing to meet you face-to-face, then that could be a red flag that they are pretending to be someone they’re not.
While life can often get in the way when it comes to setting up a first date, Wake says if someone “consistently avoids face-to-face meetings, it may be a sign of a scam”.
Little to no information on their profile
Does something about their dating profile seem unusual? Maybe they only have one picture, or very little information about themselves in their bio. These could be tell-tale signs that the person behind the screen is not who they say they are.
Inconsistencies with personal information
This could be someone with multiple fake accounts, and if they’re struggling to keep their story straight, it might be a sign that they’re not telling the truth. Wake warns to be “wary of individuals who change details about themselves or their lives”.
Love-bombing is a form of manipulation where someone will shower another person with over-the-top gestures of love and affection in order to influence them.
Dating scammers prey on the vulnerability of people searching for a romantic connection, and fake profiles may use love-bombing as a way to forge a bond with the other person.
Signs of this to look out for include intense declarations of love early on in dating, expensive gifts, and piling on pressure to commit.
Requests for money or gifts
Wake advises: “Scammers may push for private details or financial information prematurely.”
This should always be a big red flag if it happens – even if they give you an elaborate sob story for why they urgently need money, and promise to pay it back.
“Under no circumstances share personal information, such as your address, financial details or passwords and always trust your instincts: If something feels off, don’t ignore your gut feelings.” adds Wake.
“Dating should be an enjoyable and fulfilling experience, but it’s crucial to remain vigilant and cautious in the face of potential scams. By recognising the signs of a dating scam and taking proactive steps to protect yourself, you can navigate the dating world with confidence. Always report an issue if something doesn’t feel right.”