In an age where love is often just a swipe away, online dating is more popular than ever. It offers unparalleled convenience, a wealth of choice, and a chance to get to know like-minded individuals before meeting in person. But along with this modern approach to finding a partner comes an insidious underworld of fake online dating sites, fake identity online dating, and various forms of online dating scams.
From identity theft to financial loss, the dangers of fake online dating are real and prevalent in the UK–so it’s essential to be aware of how scammers operate. In this article, our experienced dating fraud investigators will delve into the world of fake online dating, explaining the methods that scammers use and how to protect yourself.
What Are Fake Online Dating Sites?
Fake online dating sites are malicious platforms created to defraud people looking for love. These sites often appear legitimate, designed with professional-looking interfaces, names and taglines. The profiles within, however, are completely fake.
Scam dating sites lure their victims in by sending a message claiming to be from a potential match, or simply saying “you’ve received a new message”. This may be sent over email, SMS, social media or even through a genuine dating site, such as Tinder.
When the unsuspecting individual follows the link to read or reply to the message, they’re taken to the bogus site and prompted to sign up. Of course, this involves entering their personal information, including their credit or debit card details–which the fraudster now has access to.
Online Dating: Fake Profiles and Romance Scams
Along with fake dating websites, another common format for online dating scams is the romance scam. This is where a scammer will create a fake profile on a real social media or dating platform, complete with appealing photographs (often stolen from real people) and an engaging personal description. They’ll then start a conversation with an innocent person, asking them questions and wanting to get to know them.
The objective is to lure you into a false romantic relationship and gain your trust in order to manipulate you later. Eventually, they’ll trick you into sharing your personal details or convince you to send them money. It’s one of the reasons why online fraud investigations are so important.
What Are the Risks of Online Dating Site Scams?
The reason that online dating scams are so prevalent is, unfortunately, because those looking for love are seen as easy targets. If you’re on a dating site, or willing to follow a link to a fake dating site, the scammer already knows something about you–that you’re looking to make a personal connection. They can then use this knowledge to take advantage of you.
Let’s explore some of the potential consequences of falling for an online dating scam.
Identity theft is one of the gravest risks. By engaging with fake identity online dating profiles, you might unknowingly be manipulated into sharing personal information with the scammer, either by signing up to a fake website or through conversations with the scammer. This may include:
- Your full name
- Your date of birth
- Your email address
- Your current or previous addresses
- Your driving licence or passport number
- Your bank account details
You may not even realise you’re sharing this information. You may think that you’re merely getting to know a new love interest, not realising that they’re carefully extracting these details over the course of weeks or months.
Scammers can then use this data to take out credit cards, open bank accounts or claim benefits in your name. The result? You could end up with a tanked credit score, chased for someone else’s debt or even be held liable for crimes you didn’t commit.
Many victims of online dating scams suffer financial losses due to being manipulated into sending the fraudster money. They may do this by, for example, claiming that they want to come and visit you and need funds to purchase plane tickets.
It’s also common for online dating scammers to invent personal crises and sob stories, asking for financial help, or lure you into investing in fraudulent businesses. The financial repercussions can be crippling, with some people losing their life savings to these dating scams online.
What’s more, because of their romantic attachment to the fraudster, it’s often difficult for victims to admit that they’ve been hoodwinked. Friends and family members may be aware that their loved one is being scammed, but may be unable to convince them of this, or prevent them from sending money.
Beyond the physical and tangible losses, fake online dating can cause deep emotional scars. Discovering that a potential romantic partner was nothing but a scammer, and wasn’t who they said they were, can lead to feelings of betrayal, shame, anxiety, and depression. This can cause real trauma, of which the psychological impact can be long-lasting and profound.
How to Avoid Scams on Online Dating
Protecting yourself starts with identifying fake online dating sites. Check for proper security certificates on the website, research the site’s reputation, and read online reviews. Be cautious of emails claiming you have a new match, or messages from users asking you to sign up to an unknown website.
Learning how to spot fake online dating profiles on genuine platforms is also vital. Here are some tips:
- Watch out for stolen photos: perform a reverse image search to check if their pictures appear elsewhere on the web.
- Be cautious of profiles with blank descriptions or few friends/followers.
- Keep an eye out for inconsistencies: for example, they say they are from Country A when their profile states Country B, or their profile is written in perfect English but their messages are full of errors.
Additionally, avoid sharing personal information with someone you’ve never met, and never agree to requests for money or financial details.
Worried About Online Dating Scams? Contact Global Investigations
The world of fake online dating is complex and ever-evolving. Being vigilant, understanding the risks, and knowing how to protect yourself are crucial.
If you’re concerned that you or a loved one may be involved in an online dating scam, Global Investigations can help. We are a world-renowned detective agency with years of experience in online fraud investigations and cybercrime. We use high-tech psychological profiling, surveillance and comprehensive background check services to catch scammers and bring them to justice.
We are fully committed to customer service, ensuring strict confidentiality, professionalism and discretion at all times. Contact Global Investigations today to find out how we can help you.