“Swiping” through profiles has become a common habit for many modern singles thanks to Tinder, the online dating app that introduced the concept. Unfortunately, what’s also increasingly common are fake Tinder profiles.
According to Tinder, there are more than one 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.
How to tell if a Tinder profile is fake
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.
Professional photos. 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, as automated software may not be sophisticated enough to fill in the bio field.
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.
Oddly cropped photos. If their profile pictures cut off part of their face or are otherwise awkwardly positioned, that’s a sign that they were likely uploaded by a bot.
No location info. The whole point of Tinder is that it connects you with users in your general location. If you match with someone that doesn’t show location info, that’s a huge red flag that they’re operating elsewhere, possibly even overseas.
Cam site invites. It should be obvious, but if a match invites you to “watch them on camera,” that’s a sign you’re not dealing with a regular single. It could be a bot trying to drive traffic to a website, or it could be a real model trying to promote their business. Either way, they’re not interested in dating you.
Overtly risque profiles. It’s one thing to use appealing pictures, but if they all feature your match in varying states of undress, with suggestive language in their bio, it’s likely a fake account trying to lure desperate users.
Obviously old photos. Cellphone camera technology improves every year, so it’s easy to spot a photo that’s more than a couple of years old. At the very least, you’re dealing with a kittenfish, if not an outright catfish.
No age. Similar to location data, if a match’s profile obscures their age that’s a big red flag that they’re not who they say they are.
Trying to get serious right away. Believe it or not, some fake accounts will offer to enter into an exclusive relationship with real users, and sometimes they fall for it. Requests for money usually aren’t far behind.
Name discrepancies. A smart scammer might have fake social media profiles to bolster their fake Tinder profile, but if they’re busy they may forget to switch display names for each new account they create. If their Tinder profile shows one name while their Instagram shows another, that’s a red flag.
Upfront sexual language. While female users are, sadly, well acquainted with men jumping the gun and trying to quickly arrange an intimate encounter, the reverse is rarely the case. If you’re a man and a female match quickly offers to meet and hook up, chances are you’re getting scammed.
Something just feels off. While blatant examples of all of these warning signals are common enough, some fake accounts display subtle signs of multiple red flags. Trust your gut, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Not all of these indicators necessarily mean a Tinder account is fake. Sometimes, the attractive person with no bio who seems like a perfect match is real and is interested in you. Generally, though, profiles like those described above are created with ulterior motives.
Types of fake Tinder profiles
As you browse Tinder, you’re likely to come across at least a few fake profiles. Fake profiles tend to fall into one of three categories.
Bots are probably the most common fake accounts, because they take little energy to create. Rather than being manned by people, these accounts are run by computer programs. Most often, they spam you with links that, once clicked, could lead you to malware. The malware is usually a tool to get you to part with your money, either by holding your device hostage or tricking you into giving up your banking information.
Every dating app is rife with catfish, and Tinder is no different. Catfishing is when a real person creates a fake persona in order to trick people into showing them affection. The most sophisticated catfish go to great lengths, even creating and maintaining elaborate social media presences for their alter egos. Some catfish are just lonely, seeking attention they feel they wouldn’t otherwise receive by being themselves. But more nefarious catfish may seek money, personal information or even to cause their victim physical harm.
The fake Tinder account
This covers all other types of fake Tinder profiles. It could be someone who, while not quite a catfish, creates an account to solicit intimate photos—up to and including running sextortion schemes. It’s also not uncommon to encounter sex workers. While their profiles may not be fake in the strictest sense, they’re still using the service to promote their business, rather than find romantic partners. Other times, users are only looking to gain social media followers.
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.
How to report a fake Tinder account
All it takes to sign up for Tinder is a Facebook account or phone number, and both of those can be easily faked. 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,” said 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, 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.