Learn How to Spot a Fake Online Dating Profile

There are definite red flags to look for

Unfortunately, responding to someone when dating online also means taking a risk because there are fake profiles on many, if not all, of the dating websites and apps.

Some of these profiles are from scammers wanting to collect your personal information, others are people “catfishing” for sport, trying to lure you into a relationship by using a fictional persona.

The good news is it’s fairly easy to spot a fake profile once you know what to look for.  Some of the red flags include photos that are too good to believe, language that is slightly more formal than the norm for your area, and when they claim to live in an unexpected part of the city that is more industrial or less populated. This happens when the scammer looks at a map and mistakenly pulls off the name of what they think is a well-known suburb.

Read on to find out more warning signs that an online dating profile is fake.

Learn How to Spot a Fake Online Dating Profile

Too good to believe

An early warning sign is when they want to immediately go to text or email, instead of talking through the online dating site. This happens because they know that they’ll quickly be reported by someone on the site, and their profile removed, and they want to try to hook you into an offline conversation before that occurs.

Believe it or not, another common red flag is if someone say they are a widower with no children, or adult children. Apparently scammers think is more appealing to women than a divorced man might be, or a never-married single man in his 40’s.

Keep in mind that when a profile is too good to believe, it usually isn't to be believed. Stef Safran, founder of Stef and the City dating service in Chicago, shared her warning signs.

Consider it a flapping red flag if the pictures look too good and are all clearly professionally done. If the guy looks like he’s posing for a J. Crew ad, then he probably is, and the photo was stolen for a fake profile, she said.

“Sure there are good looking women and men, but if all of the pictures look like he's a cologne model or she's a Victoria Secret model, this a person who could be catfishing and pulling those pictures from online,” Safran said.

“In addition to the pictures being too good, the profile itself talks about how ‘they want to have a serious relationship,’ or, ‘ they make a lot of money,’ or, ‘they want to spoil a woman,’ etc.” Safran said.

“When they talk about wanting to take care of you"and seem too much like they are feeding too many compliments towards women, it's clearly a very generalized profile to get lots of women to be interested,” she said.

Also be wary if it’s a new website because those have a better chance of creating fake profiles to attract new clients. “Unfortunately no one wants a dating site that comes across as ‘too new’ and not populated enough, so companies do create profiles that attract people to start using their site,” Safran warned.

Learn How to Spot a Fake Online Dating Profile

Coming on too strong

Once you start talking to someone, and they are coming on too strong, that’s another warning sign, said Toni Coleman, a psychotherapist and relationship coach.

“Con men present as almost too good to be true. They are attractive successful, available and really looking for love—they are also almost always looking for older women seeking a man to love them and care for them. They live at a distance, often in another country and probably travel frequently due to their own business or have exciting business plans they are working on," she said.

"After coming on very strong and professing their love and adoration for a few weeks or a month, they begin the next phase. It may be that they can’t wait any longer to meet her, but right now their capital is tied up in a new business venture and they need her to send money so they can make the trip,” Coleman said.

“Perhaps they need a quick loan because they have this exciting project that will lead to wealth and success, but are short and ask her to invest in their wonderful future life together. They may tell her they have just been given a diagnosis and need surgery, but don’t have enough funds to cover it. Bottom line—they ask for money.”

Married men on dating sites

It's probalby no surprise, but married men or otherwise committed men also post on dating sites, and pretend they’re single. This can take more time to flush out, but if a guy is never available to meet or talk during certain times of the day, it’s a red flag, Coleman said.

“If doesn’t give his address or home number, even after they may have been talking for a while or even met for a date or two. If they begin dating, they always need to go to her place. He doesn’t talk about friends, family, work friends, etc. It seems he is very private about many aspects of his life, or he lives in another city and can only get together when he is in her city on business,” Coleman said.

Look for inconsistencies

In a nutshell, “those who exaggerate, post old photos, stretch or construct the truth can look great on paper, but inconsistencies usually show quickly. They don’t have new photos to share or others besides the headshot. They are vague about where they work/live. They may be reluctant to meet and always have a conflict when it is brought up. During any conversations they may share things that conflict with what they said in their profile,” Coleman said.

Lori Bizzoco, executive editor and founder of, shared specific ways she can spot a fake profile:

  • Limited information and photos: Many fake accounts will only have one photo of a very good looking person, along with very limited personal information. If you think you've seen the photo before you probably have because it is common for these accounts to use pictures of models that have surfaced on the internet before. These users are also known for not providing enough information about themselves and if you engage with them, they tend to ask you a slew of questions. If it looks fake and feels fake, it most likely is fake.
  • Online but never in person: Online dating sites are a great way to connect with potential partners. However, if your suitors are not stepping up and giving you face-to-face time, something is up. A real person will be on the site to meet other real people, a fake account won’t be interested in seeing you. Don’t waste your time engaging with someone who has no intention of meeting you.
  • Is it too good to be true: If the person you are chatting with is sending you everything you want to hear, be skeptical. Does he or she have the perfect job, friends, family, and fits absolutely perfectly into your life? Don’t let your guard down just yet/ Wait until you know this person is real and set up a time to meet.
  • Spam means a scam: If an account is sending you links to click on, or strange messages that seem robotic, you’re being scammed. These accounts will send duplicate messages out to multiple people at once in hopes of getting you to click on the links and pages they send out.

If you’re talking to anyone online, and something just doesn’t add up right, then listen to your gut instinct. Ask more questions, and if you don’t like the answers, report the profile to the dating site, and immediately cut off communication with him.

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