Some people have a hard time finding the right one in the real world. So, they look at dating apps and websites as their savior from distress and loneliness. You swipe left and right hoping to find a long-term relationship. While such platforms are a way to meet new people, make new relationships, and take them forward in real life, at the same time, you need to be aware of online dating red flags and online dating scams that happen on a day-to-day basis.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States, online dating scams resulted in reported losses of over $547 million just in the year 2021. That’s the most expensive type of consumer fraud during that year. To note, the real numbers are likely to be much higher owing to the fact that many victims may feel too embarrassed or ashamed to report their unfortunate encounters.

11 Online Dating Red Flags You Should Never Ignore 

It’s very important to prioritize your safety and trust your gut when it comes to spotting online dating fraud. To protect you from becoming a victim of a romance scammer, we have gathered all the warning signs of a catfish you should be aware of before delving into the world of online dating: 

1. Their communication is inconsistent and vague 

  • “Oh, I live in America”. Okay, but where exactly in America?
  • “I work for a software company”. Which software company?
  • “My parents are immigrants”. Interesting. But where are they from? 
  • “Let’s not talk about my past”. Why? What are they hiding?

Their lackadaisical approach toward maintaining good communication is one of the first warning signs in online dating. This clearly suggests that they are not being truthful about who they are and what they want from you. Furthermore, they will frequently change their narrative and their answers won’t be a perfect match. You will feel like they are either lying or trying to look more cool.

Also, they will deliberately hide or avoid answering direct questions like where they were born, how many siblings they have, where they studied, and other personal questions that could potentially reveal their true identity. Their online conversations will look rehearsed. All these things indicate that they are not being genuine or might be hiding something. 

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2. They don’t share their social media profiles 

Another way to check the legitimacy of an online dating profile is by asking them for their social media handles. It’s a huge red flag if their dating app conversations sound like:

  • I am not on social media
  • I am not ready to disclose such personal information yet 
  • Sorry. It’s just friends and family for now

The reason why they aren’t ready to add you on Instagram and other social networking sites is because they are not real. They are hiding behind a fake profile. Perhaps they are talking to other girls and saying the same things in order to scam them. On the other hand, maybe they are married or have a committed partner and they just want to have romantic liaisons outside their monogamous relationship with the help of dating websites.

This is one of the common online dating pitfalls that many people fail to recognize as they feel it’s better to not appear intrusive. No. You need to put your safety before anything else. Go ahead and ask all the questions you want. If they hesitate to answer, that’s your cue to identifying fake online dating profiles. You can also search their username on Instagram and go through their feed, comments, and following list to see if they are real and single. 

3. They refuse to connect via video chats/They use fake AI on video calls

They will tell you all kinds of lies to avoid taking your video calls. They will tell you they aren’t looking their best today or they will lie about their background being a mess. Don’t fall for these lies. If not this, then at least ask if you can have an audio call with them. If they refuse to engage in a voice call as well, it’s one of the warning signs in online dating. 

According to L. Drew Ingraham, a financial and cyber crime investigator, “Most scammers won’t video call because of their identity but some intelligent scammers can use many third-​party video chat applications to try and trick you. They do this by taking a video of the person they are pretending to be, and voicing over it during the video call.”

With rising AI and technology, scammers are everywhere. That’s why recognizing online dating deception has become more important than ever. Here are some tips to find out if the person on the video call is fake or real:

  • One of the things to watch out for when online dating is the quality of their video calls. If the quality is poor, then you have a reason to suspect this person 
  • Check for any watermarks or other signs that could indicate that this fake video has come from a certain online platform 
  • Look at their face. Does it look extra long or extra wide? That’s because they have tried to resize it to fit the web screen. This is another sign you shouldn’t start a new relationship with this person 
online dating scams
Image by katemangostar on Freepik

4. Their profile is perfect 

A person’s dating profile speaks a lot about their personality. The authentic dater will show the world what they are by posting authentic pictures. On the contrary, the “fake it till you make it” dater will use glamorous pictures to trap people. They will make it look like they are the hottest person you will ever come across. Their online dating profile is perfect and:

  • Their interests match with yours. Their political views are the same as yours. They love traveling and so do you. They love Chinese food just like you and guess what their favorite show is? FRIENDS! They have studied you well after matching with you and before dropping their first message
  • Their relationship status is single
  • Their pictures are nothing short of a Vogue photoshoot
  • They have posted their gym selfies showing their abs and muscle
  • They have also uploaded pictures of their pet

How can one person be so perfect? That’s because they are not real. All of these things may seem like a fairy tale for a short period. Once you start talking more regularly, you will notice their phoniness. So, don’t ever judge a person by their dating profile. Anyone can steal photos off the internet and post them on someone’s profile. Downloading such pics is no difficult feat for them. 

If you just started talking to this person, then ask them to send more realistic pictures. Them at their workplace, with their colleagues, and group pictures with their friends. If the guy or the girl you are talking to ignores your requests, then it’s one of the red flags in a woman’s dating profile and in a man’s dating profile. You need to stay safe by keeping in mind all the red flags in online dating. 

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5. They avoid meeting you in person 

If they consistently make excuses for not being able to meet up, it’s one of the online dating scams you should be aware of. What’s stopping them from meeting you in person if they have already expressed their interest in you? They may lie to you and use online dating safety concerns behind their hesitation to meet you in real life. Don’t fall for that. 

Moreover, it’s the wrong person for you if they:

  • Ask you to meet in a shady location or alone at their home. Always opt for a neutral place where there is public around 
  • If they ask you to meet miles far away from the place they live, it could be because they are already in a serious relationship and cheating on their partner with you
  • If the two of you have been in touch for a few months, then you may even ask them to introduce you to their friends and family members. If they ignore you after that, it’s clear that you are dealing with a fraud 

6. They seem too good to be true

  • Their endless texting, sweet whispers, and compliments on how beautiful, smart, and understanding you are 
  • The way they portray themselves to be an empathetic and kind person
  • The way they gloat about their home, cars, and wealth 
  • Their increasing concern toward you, your job, and your health 

Everything will scream too good to be true. They will try to make it look like they have developed an intense emotional connection with you but they could also be putting on a facade to fool you into trusting them. This is one of the red flags in dating profiles that you shouldn’t ignore. 

If your gut tells you something is wrong, then don’t ignore it. In fact, researchers have found intuition to be a surprisingly powerful and accurate tool. In a study, participants were forced to choose between two options based on instinct alone, the participants made the right call up to 90% of the time. 

7. They are more interested in sexting 

It’s been a few months since you and this person started talking. It was all jokes and flirting during the early stages but now it’s full-on sexting and:

  • Every conversation somehow ends up in talking about sex, their desires, and what they like in bed. That’s not a healthy relationship 
  • They reach out to you only when they are in the mood for some fun
  • They never mention anything about emotional intimacy or spending quality time by going on dates
  • You feel like they are being vulgar rather than being flirtatious 

Rob Weisskirch, a well-known researcher and author says, “Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and other dating app users are quick to discover that getting a sext from someone you are attracted to is easier than hooking up with them in real life. It’s a form of digital foreplay. Hence, Sexting early in relationships (or before a real relationship has formed) may be a sign of relational anxiety or someone who is not interested in a long-term relationship.” 

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8. They demand sexual pictures and sensitive things from you 

It’s okay to sext if that’s what you want. However, if they ask you for nudes or anything remotely sexual, you need to get ready with all the safety measures you can. Don’t ever trust anyone on the internet who asks you for nude pictures of yourself. According to the Department of Homeland Security, there were more than 3,000 sextortion tips reported in fiscal year 2022. That’s how easy it has become for predators to blackmail people on dating apps and social media.  

The right guy or girl will first prove to you their authenticity and genuineness. They will meet you in person, establish trust, and foster a deep emotional connection before making things sexual. These are the green flags that you need to look for in online dating. 

In addition to that, if they demand questionable and sensitive things like:

  • Bank account details 
  • Phone number if they haven’t shared theirs yet 
  • Passwords
  • Credit status 
  • Social security number 
  • Insurance policy numbers 
  • Credit/debit card numbers 
  • Passport information 

If it’s an actual scammer you are dealing with, then you may end up in a lot of hot mess. You may lose your savings. That’s one of the risks you should never take with strangers and potential matches on dating websites. 

9. They make unrealistic promises 

When you are virtual dating someone, here are some unrealistic promises you need to watch out for:

  • Promising sudden wealth, such as doubling your money or offering an investment opportunity that guarantees enormous profits within a short period
  • Claiming they can take you on extravagant trips, provide exclusive access to high-profile events, or offer luxurious gifts on a regular basis
  • Boasting about having close connections to celebrities or influential individuals and suggesting they can introduce you to them
  • Expressing deep, unconditional love and commitment within an extremely short time frame, even before getting to know each other well
  • Claiming ownership of expensive possessions like luxury cars, mansions, or rare items, and implying they can provide these things to you 

While some people might genuinely have impressive experiences or qualities, making consistent and outlandish promises without any evidence to support them is a red flag. 

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10. They ghost you often 

They constantly DM you for a few days. Then, bam! They are gone. They don’t reach out to you. In fact, their profile is also deleted. They have ghosted you. A few days later, they come back again as if nothing happened. Such suspicious behavior in online dating is one of the classic signs that they are in a long-term relationship and you are just a fling. The right person will tell you things as they are. Whether they are divorced, separated, or if they just want a no-strings-attached kind of a relationship. 

Some other reasons why they keep ghosting you include:

  • Perhaps they were afraid they might get caught and decided to deactivate their account till their partner starts confusing their suspicion with paranoia
  • Maybe they got caught scamming other women and men and had to take a break till things cooled down
  • They could also be using the good old “absence makes the heart grow fonder” technique to see if you have fallen for their charms and antiques 

Don’t start trusting anyone blindly especially if you have only known them for a short period. Experienced players know how and when to trap their prey. That’s why it’s always good to have trust issues in online dating. You never know when someone will turn out to be a con artist. 

11. They ask for money 

They will first assure you that they are the perfect partner and that your relationship will be devoid of any challenges or conflicts. They are just trying to fool you. Don’t fall for any of their claims. They will use all kinds of tricks and tips to make you fall for their story. They will tell you they need money for their mother’s surgery or they will ask you to invest in their business. 

Once they feel like you have believed their narrative and sob stories, they will ask you for money. No matter how long you have been messaging them, DO NOT send money especially if they insist on being paid with Zelle, Cash App or Venmo, walk away immediately. These apps are famous for being used by scammers. Your physical, financial, and mental health depends on it. 

  • Stop contact right away 
  • Report and block them 
  • Take a screenshot of their messages and warn everyone you know to stay away from such crooks

Key Takeaways 

  • Online dating is a roller coaster. It has more banes than boons. People can easily take advantage of you if you are not careful about what you share with them 
  • Some of the signs one of your potential matches is a fraud include asking for sensitive information and ghosting you often 
  • You need to be on your toes and block them if you feel like something is wrong 

It is always crucial to stay vigilant and prioritize your safety and well-being. If you encounter any of these red flags, it’s a good idea to proceed with caution or reconsider your interaction with that person. We hope these online dating red flags checklist comes to your rescue whenever you feel like you are being trapped.