If the true story of Netflix’s The Tinder Swindler — where several women were scammed out of thousands of dollars by a man they met on the dating app — has you worried about your dating safety, you’re not alone. It’s an online dating horror story that nobody ever wants to experience, but unfortunately, it does happen.
A 2021 report released by the Federal Trade Commission revealed that
people lose more money on romance scams than any other type of fraud. In 2020, losses due to these types of scams reached a record high of $304 million. That’s up 50% from 2019. But if you use dating apps, you know it can be tricky to spot red flags when you’re behind a screen.
“When it comes to online scammers, it's not just a dating profile that will reveal who they really are,”
Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking tells Bustle. “It’s their interactions along with their profile that throw up red flags.”
For example, you’ll want to tread lightly with anyone whose profile only consists of photos of them on jets, expensive vacations, and flashy cars. While flirting with someone who appears to live the life of luxury can be exciting, “it's bait for you to click and go for it so they can rip you off,” Trombetti says. Of course, this isn’t the case for every single person who flaunts their wealth on dating apps. But if anything seems “too good to be true,” it probably is.
Below, experts reveal some signs you may be talking to a scammer on dating apps.
They’re Already Talking About The Future
If you just started messaging a week ago and they’re already acting like you are the love of their life — showering you with compliments, hinting at the “L” word, and moving super fast — these are all
signs of love bombing. Trombetti says this is always a red flag. “If there is any talk of a future, and especially when you haven't even met in person, please know this person is not for real.” They Give You Generic Answers When You First Start Talking
If you’re talking to someone who says they’re local, they should be able to name specific places in the area. For instance,
Omar Ruiz, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle, they should be able to answer what spots in town they haven’t visited yet but would like to check out or what their favorite restaurant is. If someone responds with short and concise statements, you could be dealing with a liar. “It's as though they are purposely trying to avoid being caught that they are not local or a real person,” Ruiz says. They Want You To Continue Talking On Another Platform Right Away
It may be seen as a bold move to ask someone for their number right after matching on a dating app, and some people may do that as a way to filter out certain people who might not be serious about dating. But, it be can be a red flag.
According to Ruiz, most people who are dating with good intentions tend to feel more comfortable exchanging contact information after some back and forth messaging within the dating app you met on. This way, it allows you to get to know each other before deciding to see where it goes.
But scammers may try to push you to start messaging offline so they can have a better chance of getting what they want from you. Plus, many dating apps have features that allow you to block or report people who are acting shady, so getting you on another platform helps them stay active on the apps, too.
They Hesitate To Take It Offline Or They Cancel In-Person Dates At The Last Minute
Canceling a date once or twice is forgivable — things happen that may be out of their control. But if you’re dealing with someone who says they’re super excited about meeting up, yet always has a wild excuse for why they can’t do it, you’re likely talking to someone who doesn’t have your best interest at heart.
“Scammers have a way of canceling dates at the last minute with outrageous excuses,” Trombetti says. “Don't fall for this.” Even if they aren’t trying to scam you, people who do this just aren’t worth your time.
Your Google Search Left You With A Lot Of Questions
No matter how many people try to deny it, it’s pretty
common to Google someone you’re interested in especially if you met them online. If it seems like what they’re saying doesn’t add up to what you’ve seen online, it isn’t something to brush off.
“Not being able to verify any of the info they give you is a grand red flag,” Trombetti says. This is especially true if you’re talking to someone who claims to be very wealthy. Trombetti also says that last names may be worth noting in these cases. Scammers will sometimes use common names like “Smith,” “Mitchell,” or “Green” so it’ll be hard to narrow down their name on Google or LinkedIn.
They Reply To You At Odds Times Of The Day
If you’re talking to someone who claims they live in the same place as you, but they only message you at 2 a.m., you may be talking to someone who isn’t being truthful. “Scammers may reply at odd hours of the day, as they are clearly living in a different time zone and/or country,”
Rori Sassoon, relationship expert and co-owner of matchmaking agency Platinum Poire, tells Bustle. In this case, “trust your intuition,” she says. If you try to talk to them about it but they never give you a clear answer, it may be best to just cut ties. They Ask A Lot Of Personal Questions Right Away
When you’re talking to someone online and they’re attentive, ask thoughtful follow-up questions, and respond in a way that makes you feel seen and heard, it’s easy to start falling for them. It can feel like you’ve finally found someone who gets you. But be cautious about what you reveal to someone right away.
Scammers only want to take things from you, says Sassoon. It may start off with them asking for additional photos and before you know it, they’ll be asking for more personal information.
According to Sassoon, scammers will look for any signs of vulnerability and exploit that in order to get whatever they can out of you. “Keep yourself safe online by keeping protective layers between you and your match,” she says. That means, don’t reveal anything too personal before you’ve had a chance to meet in person. If someone pushes you to open up before you’re ready, they may not be the right one for you.
Sources Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking Omar Ruiz, licensed marriage and family therapist Rori Sassoon, relationship expert and co-owner of matchmaking agency Platinum Poire
Get Even More From Bustle — Sign Up For The Newsletter
From hair trends to relationship advice, our daily newsletter has everything you need to sound like a person who’s on TikTok, even if you aren’t.