How to Spot and Avoid Bogus Dating Sites

By Sarah PritzkerSarah Pritzker

Online dating has become a popular way for singles to meet, get to know one another, and even find long-term, committed relationships. As this new-age dating method gains popularity, more sites are springing up to fill the growing demand. What this means for singles is plenty of choices and plenty of opportunities.

One thing you want to look out for when sifting through your options is a fake dating site. This is an online dating forum that may look legitimate but is actually nothing more than a scam. The website will draw you in, take your money, and leave you high, dry, and most definitely single. 

While there are plenty of reliable and successful dating websites like Zoosk and Match, there are just as many bogus ones. All fake dating sites have one main thing in common: they're fabricated sites with fictitious profiles created solely for the purpose of stealing your hard-earned money.

Man scams woman online

Spot That Scam, Fake or Phony

How can you tell when a dating site is for real and when it's just a group of con artists trying to clear out your bank account? Here are some telltale signs that something is amiss. 

Sign #1: Too Hot to Handle

Browse through a handful of profiles on the potential dating site. Is everyone gorgeous, ripped, and almost perfect? If so, this is probably a scam. The reality is that people aren’t perfect. Not everyone is supermodel beautiful, and we all have flaws. If the profiles you are browsing through all look too good to be true, they probably are. Not to say there can’t be some incredibly attractive men and women on legitimate dating sites. But if you are seeing tens or even hundreds of these Barbie doll profiles, you’re probably sifting through a sham.

Man sees online dating profiles

Sign #2: Writing on the Wall

One of the biggest audacities that counterfeit sites present is the blatant manipulation they use to deceive people. If you look at many of the fraudulent websites' terms and conditions, you'll see that they state clearly that they make up profiles and even contact you from fictitious profiles from time to time. Any site that is creating profiles is a clear and obvious perpetrator of this deception. Legitimate dating sites have hundreds of thousands to millions of real people signing up and using their sites every day. They have no need to create profiles. So, beware this glaring red flag. No doubt, reading through terms and conditions is tedious, but a quick scan just might save you loads.

Sign #3: Messages are Frequent, Fast, and Unlikely

You sign up for the dating site, create your profile, and within minutes, you've got a message sitting in your inbox. Nice! You must be a pretty desirable catch to get a message that fast, right? Maybe, but more likely, you’ve fallen into a bogus dating site. The lovely lady or muscle-bulging man who IMed you or emailed you is probably a fictitious profile that is actually being run by the site owner or staff members.

Notice who is contacting you and if the communication makes sense. Are you getting lots of emails within a few minutes? Are beautiful women getting in touch with you unsolicited? Are they talking to you often? These aren’t guarantees that the website is a fake, but they are definitely warning signs that something might be amiss. Dig deeper into these profiles before you commit.

Messages pouring in

Sign #4: Jumping Right into Bed

Most people wouldn’t jump into bed with someone they met at a bar. You want to get to know the person, make sure you have things in common, enjoy each other’s personalities, and most importantly, confirm that they aren’t a psychopath! So, why would it be different with online dating? You’ll want to get to know the person on the other side of the internet cables before getting intimate with them. That’s just common sense.

Anyone who tries to develop a more intimate relationship (whether it’s actually meeting up for a hookup, participating in phone sex, sending you provocative pictures, etc.) might have a hidden agenda. After all, no matter how good you look in your profile pic, you’re probably not getting them going that fast!

Choose Wisely

You can protect yourself against scams and phony dating sites by following some simple steps. 

Choose a Site with Safety Measures in Place

While a scam site won’t offer much security, real dating sites should offer a variety of safety tools to protect you. Zoosk, for example, uses profile verification to ensure users are who they say they are. In addition, it has created Zoosk Insignia, a new verification system that provides an extra level of safety against romance scammers claiming to be members of the U.S. military.   

Don’t Ever Give Personal Information, Money, or Bank Details

This is an important tip even when using a legitimate dating site. There will always be people in the world ready to take your money and run. Never give out any personal information to a stranger on a dating site—even after you’ve spoken a few times.

A common trick scammers will use is to befriend an unsuspecting single, get close to them, and then tell them a sob story about how they have no money, their mother is dying, and they can't afford the medication, etc. Anything they can think of to get you to send them money. Simply don’t do it! 

Take Your Time Developing the Relationship

Real relationships take time to develop. Don't rush into things, and be wary of anyone who tries to make you get into the fast lane early on in the relationship.

Give Online Dating a Try...The Right Way

Online dating is an excellent way to meet new people, get to know someone before you develop a relationship, and find singles who really match what you’re looking for. With sites like Match and Zoosk, there are even advanced technologies to help you narrow down your choices, hone in on the right type of profiles, and deliver unbelievably accurate results.

There are plenty of legitimate sites that'll help you find love and companionship without ripping you off. Stick to the tried and tested dating websites to find what you’re looking for at last.

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