“Swiping” through profiles has become a common habit for many modern singles thanks to Tinder, the online dating app that introduced the concept.
Tinder allows users to swipe right (if they’re interested) or left (if they’re not) on other users’ profiles. When two people swipe right on each other, they can connect with and message each other within the app, and decide if they’d like to meet up for a date.
According to Tinder, there are more than 1 million dates set every week by couples who match on the app. However, not everyone on Tinder is who they seem: Among the app’s 57 million global users, it’s estimated that 1 in 10 has created a fake profile with the intent to dupe or scam others.
What is a fake Tinder profile?
As you browse Tinder, you’re likely to come across at least a few fake profiles. These impersonators might be using professional models’ photos or even pictures from regular people they’ve lifted from social media or Google.
Behind that fake profile could be a real person trying to get your personal information or money. It could also be a chat bot designed to spam you with links that, once clicked, could lead you to malware.
Whether it’s a person trying to pull a long con on you with a classic catfish scheme or a bot set up by a malicious user, you’ll want to keep your guard up when browsing Tinder profiles. Catfish are notorious for trying to sucker people into a relationship until they get what they want. The best thing you can do is to be your own advocate and know how to spot fake profiles on Tinder.
How can I identify a fake Tinder profile?
It can be tempting to swipe right on everyone you come across to get as many matches as possible, but this will only increase the likelihood of landing on a fake profile. Before you swipe, carefully scrutinize the profile photo(s) and bio for the first few signs that you might be matched with a bot or catfish.
Carmelia Ray, a dating expert and coach, notes that some common ways to spot a fake is when there are very few photos and they all look like “magazine style” or “model-quality” images. She also says that the person’s grammar may be simple or broken when they communicate with you.
Here are some other specific red flags that you’ve come across a fake Tinder profile:
● Professional photo: If the person in the photo looks styled, posed, and photographed in an exotic location or on set, it’s probably a photo of a model.
● Model-like looks: Ridiculously good-looking people may or may not match with you, but if they seem a little too attractive, you might be talking to a bot or a catfish.
● No bio: A lack of bio is a big red flag that an account could be fake.
● Only one photo: If all you see is one photo, it’s possible that the profile was set up quickly to snag as many matches as possible before the account is reported.
● Lots of links to social media accounts: It’s nice to see social media accounts of the people you matched with, but if that’s all that’s being shared, you may have matched with someone who just wants followers.
● Short conversations: Quick, short answers are common when you’re speaking with a bot, and you’ll probably see the next red flag after a short conversation.
● Links after a few messages: Bots and fakers on Tinder are likely to get right to the point with a URL in text promising more photos, or a link to a live stream, but it could be malware.
● Messages that make no sense: If you’re conversing with a match and a response sounds like nonsense, it might be a bot.
● Requests for detailed personal information or money: It’s OK to ask questions to get to know someone, but if your match starts asking for highly specific information like banking details —or wants you to send them money—it’s best to stop engaging with them.
● Trying to move the conversation off Tinder immediately: Someone who’s eager to get you off the in-app messaging platform likely feels more comfortable pulling a scam when it can’t be directly traced back to their Tinder account activity.
Not all of these indicators necessarily mean a Tinder account is fake. Sometimes, the attractive girl with no bio who seems too good to be true is real and is interested in you. Generally, though, profiles like those described above are created with ulterior motives.
What should I do if I think I’ve found a fake account?
All it takes to sign up for Tinder is a Facebook account or phone number, and both of those can be faked easily. The app has a reporting system in place to crack down on fake accounts, so you can do your part to help reduce the number of fake profiles by alerting Tinder when you spot one.
“Safety is the number one issue of importance to all of us in the dating business,” says online dating expert Julie Spira.
Tinder allows you to report a profile through the app or by email. From the person’s profile in the app, just scroll down and select “Report.” If you’d prefer to report by email, just fill out a form on Tinder’s website and include specific information about the profile, such as name, age, bio, location and screenshots of the profile if you have them.
If you’re unsure whether someone is who they say they are, consider performing a people search using the information you can gather from their bio or social media profiles. This may help you verify whether the person is using their real name and contact information—and if they are real, a search can yield further information to help you vet that person before pursuing a relationship.
Staying safe and happy in the online dating world
Matching with someone great on Tinder can be exciting and rewarding, but only if they are who they claim to be. If you do set up a date with someone you connect with on Tinder, the best thing you can do is follow basic safety precautions to protect yourself in case you’ve been catfished.
“The best advice I like to give is to trust your intuition,” says Spira. “If something feels wrong, you can always cancel a date or end it early.”
“Communicate with a close friend or family member of your whereabouts, and consider location sharing while you are on your date,” Ray adds.Of course, the best way to avoid being scammed is to learn how to spot a fake profile before you decide to meet up with someone. When you swipe right on a profile, look for some of the above listed red flags, such as suspicious pictures, lack of bio and poor grammar, that might indicate you’re talking to a catfish or a bot. If you believe you’re being conned, report the account to Tinder.