How to Spot a Fake Profile on a Dating App

Ten years ago, in 2012, Tinder launched on the iPhone, paving the way for a new generation of online dating. Thousands of potential dates were in our pockets, ready to match with and organise a date – for that evening if we wanted. The following year, Tinder expanded to Android devices and other smartphones, and within two years, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge, Bumble, Happn and Feeld joined the party.

Until then, straight singletons wanting to date beyond their immediate circles, open to connecting with strangers, had to rely on clunky website code to find a partner. Remember Match.com (launched 1995!), Plenty of Fish (2003), OkCupid (2004 – later becoming an app in 2018) and Badoo (2006)? Heterosexuals were seeking what the gay community had: the capability of connecting with active users within a specific geographical radius (Grindr launched in 2009).

No doubt the advent of the iPhone in 2007 (and its subsequent popularity), followed by the boom in smartphones was the catalyst for a new era of digital dating. And yet, in the ten years since Tinder launched, the entire culture (and attitude) towards online dating has shifted. Add a global pandemic to the mix and dating apps are bursting with profiles. Match Group owns more than 45 dating app brands, including Tinder, Hinge, Match and OkCupid and reported a 15% increase in new subscribers from April 2020 to August 2020.

Although with more users, comes more fake profiles. It’s thought around 10% of profiles on dating apps are fake, so it’s good to know how to spot one.

So when you’re swiping on dating sites, here are some top tips for spotting a fake profile:

Only one photo

Having only one photo isn’t necessarily indicative of a fake profile, but when accompanied by a limited (or non-existent) bio and the singular photo is of someone conventionally gorgeous, it’s quite possible the profile is fake. (You can do a reverse image search if you’re suspicious a profile is fake.) If the photo is against a white background, this could also indicate the picture has been ripped off the Internet. If the profile has no bio and no photo – don’t swipe “yes” – although that should be obvious.

Suggesting moving to another platform very quickly

Some of the dating apps are littered with bugs (hello, Feeld) and getting off the app and onto WhatsApp can be a good way to ensure you don’t lose the connection, the person is who they say they are and conversation can flow more smoothly. Yet some men told me if a woman suggests moving to another messaging platform very soon after matching, it’s possible the profile is run by a man. If you move across to WhatsApp and your match has no name or photo (or possibly the same singular photo as on their dating profile), this could be a sign of a fake profile.

Pen pals and not meeting

Sure, not everyone is on dating apps to meet IRL and virtual connections are appealing for some people. Although if your suggestions to meet up are repeatedly ignored or your match regularly makes excuses, this could mean the profile is fake. Saying that, most people will reject the suggestion of meeting up almost immediately after a match so don’t rush in straight away.

Dodgy grammar – but there’s a caveat!

Lots of people I spoke with said poor grammar and awkwardly-constructed sentences can be a sign of a fake profile but this isn’t always the case. There are loads of people with a shaky grasp of English grammar (I should know, I’m a writer) and non-native English speakers can also find putting the right words in the right order tricky at times, so don’t rule someone out just because of sketchy grammar. (Although do rule them out if poor grammar irritates you like it does me.)

Avoiding video calls

Hinge allows you to video call within the app, making it easier to verify someone before swapping numbers. If you swap numbers with someone and they refuse to have a video call, they’re probably fishy.

The bleeding obvious

They ask you for:

  • money
  • personal information
  • your bank details
  • nudes. In the case of Feeld or more casual dating apps, swapping pictures is the norm for many but not on Hinge, Bumble, etc. Never send anything you feel pressured to send, obviously.

Spotting a fake profile saves you time and effort chatting on dating apps because, let’s be honest, online dating requires a lot of admin.

Photo by Keira Burton from Pexels

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