A rash of fake dating sites has been scamming people out of their money and personal information, according to an alert issued by the Better Business Bureau. What makes this scam so insidious is that these sites are functional and elaborate, with hundreds of fake profiles, various add-on purchases, and “customer service” reps. Here’s how you can spot and avoid them.
How the dating site scams work
But that’s only the beginning: Once you create a profile and provide payment information, you will be contacted by other dating site members that are supposedly interested in your profile. To reply to these people, the dating service will charge you a certain amount of credits or coins, which will cost you extra. Of course, none of this is real. All the profiles are fake. If you wan’t to complain, you can, but the customer service rep will be fake, too.
(There’s a similar scam for travel booking sites, too, with seemingly-functional booking systems for flights or hotels).
How to spot a fake dating site
The closer you look at these sites, the more you’ll notice red flags. You’ll likely receive dozens of messages immediately (“bombarded,” as one user put it), even if you’ve barely filled out your profile and haven’t posted a photo of yourself. You’ll also notice that many of the people trying to connect with you don’t even live in your city, or are well out of your dating age range.
Another way to spot fake sites is that they almost always have weird, sloppy writing that often doesn’t make sense, whether that’s other profiles or on the landing page itself. The marketing copy for one fake site reads “Virtual, lively flirting is great fun and it gives a very individual perspective,” for example.
The Better Business Bureau recommends checking BBB.org for reviews and feedback from previous customers before signing up for any unfamiliar site. An internet search of the dating website’s name along with the words “reviews” and “scams” is a good idea, too. Also double-check URLs before entering credit card information, as you should see both a “https://” and a padlock icon next to it in your address bar.