The good news is that, with even cursory awareness of what to look for, you can spot a fake profile a mile off, saving yourself time, heartache, and maybe even money. Here are the top 5 I find myself telling clients all the time!

1. They struggle with basic conversation

Soon after you match, the chat is littered with non sequiturs, weird spelling or grammatical errors, or generic robotic responses. These are red flags. Despite the person apparently being close by, their profile may be fake and being controlled from elsewhere—or they’re not a person at all, and you’re interacting with a bot.

Sometimes it’s obvious when the account is fake, but often it can be hard to tell—or, realistically, they may look cute and you want to give them the benefit of the doubt. If so, you can check by asking them specific questions: ‘Hey, I see you’re not far from me! What do you think of [name of pub/club/restaurant]?’ If you’re feeling extra Sherlock you could even ask about a place that doesn’t exist. If they reply with an enthusiastic review of a nonexistent establishment, they’re either a liar, a tryhard—or a faker.

Finally, a surefire signal you’re talking to a bot or fraudster is when they send you a link out of the blue. Do not open it. It might embroil you in a phishing scam (designed to get your personal information), or infect your device with malicious software.

2. They bombard you with compliments and affection

Maybe they have no filter. Or they’re drunk. But alternatively, this might all be a ruse to make you lower your guard. If the affection feels forced, rushed, or artificial, take a step back. You may be dealing with a scammer trying to win your trust. Or, if this person is real, they may just be way, way, way too intense for you, and you’d be wise to cut contact immediately.

3. Their profile is patchy—or simply too good to be true

One of the easiest telltale signs of a fake profile is a blank bio, the section where you write about yourself. (And if this person is real, they might be lazy, in which case are they worth your time anyway?)

On the other hand, perhaps their profile is so amazing it has the opposite effect and leaves you doubting. Maybe their photos look staged, or too crafted, or simply too high-quality. (Although of course don’t get too sceptical—perhaps they’re just professional headshots, or they’re a model.) But you should also note the content of the images as well as their quality. If every photo looks like someone living the dream, well—it might be legit, but more likely it is just that: a dream.

Finally, if you’ve not yet discovered the wonders of reverse image search, let me introduce you. If you come across a suspicious photo on someone’s profile, simply screenshot it, hit the camera icon on Google Images, and upload the photo. Google will instantly throw up other places the image has been used. If the first result is a stock imagery website—head back to the app and block that match!

4. They’re never free for a call

If you’re getting weird vibes off this person, ask if they’re available to chat on the phone or a video call. A scammer will almost certainly turn down every request, with feeble excuses that quickly fail to stack up. And even if they do pick up, their camera might be covered, or their voice altered. Of course, even if they are real, if they fail to grasp that they appear to be a faker, they’re definitely not worth sticking around for!

5. They’re determined to get your personal information

This is the most important sign of all.

Scammers don’t do small talk. They want your phone number—or more tellingly, your email address, even your actual address. Getting your contact information enables a fraudster to bypass the dating apps’ stringent security protocols. Don’t help them on their way to defrauding you. Simply say goodbye (perhaps with a few choice words thrown in, at your discretion of course), and hit that block button hard.

I hear countless wonderful stories about couples who met online. Relationships, marriage, kids—all these things can and do result from dating apps! So as long you’re vigilant and take these basic steps to look after yourself, you’ll be fine. If in doubt, block that profile, and report them to the app for good measure.

Maclynn is a boutique, multi-award-winning introductions agency with offices in New York, New Jersey, California and London. We’re world-renowned for bringing together highly compatible singles within our vast network of attractive, intelligent professionals, and our matchmakers are relationship experts in their own right. Get in touch today, and prepare for genuinely meaningful dating—just like you deserve.