Fake and suspicious profiles rife on dating sites

New Which? research has revealed more than half of people using online dating sites and apps thought they had seen a fake profile and two in five people had been contacted by somebody asking for money.

A new Which? survey of 1000 users experiences on online dating websites and apps over the last five years found two in five people (40%) had been asked for money through a dating site or app, with one in seven (15%) admitting to sending money to someone who asked for it. Upon starting a conversation, three in ten (29%) were directed to external sites where they could have been at risk of fraudulent activity.

Of the dating sites used by the people we surveyed, Lovestruck.com was the dating site where people were more likely to be asked for cash (34%), closely followed by Dating Direct (28%) and Elite Singles (27%). Of the one in seven who sent money when asked to on a dating site or app, men were twice more likely to have sent money than women.

Our survey also found that that around six in ten people (57%) had seen what they believed to be a fake profile, with Tinder revealed to be the dating app where most people thought they had encountered a fake profile (43%) closely followed by Plenty of Fish (42%) and Lovestruck.com (38%). Only three in ten reported fake profiles when they saw one.

Which? has information on how to spot fake online dating profiles and advice on how to protect yourself when using dating sites and apps on our free consumer rights site.

Tips include:

  • Do not share personal details such as your mother’s maiden name or your pets name which could be used to try to access financial information.
  • In your profile, do not include your last name, email or home address, phone number or other identifying information.
  • Always create and use a unique email address that is different to your personal or professional addresses when setting up a profile for a dating website profile.
  • Do not send money to anyone you meet through an online dating website no matter how convincing they may appear to be.
  • Finally, never click on a link within an email as this could be an email phishing scam which could be intended to extract personal details or money from you in some way.

Which? director of campaigns, Alex Neill, said:

“It’s important for people to be vigilant when using dating sites or apps and ensure they are not revealing personal data that then could be used by scammers.

“We’ve found most dating sites are quick to act on reports of fake profiles and scam attempts, so we encourage anyone who sees a fake profile or is approached by a suspected scammer to report it.”

Notes to editors:

  1. In January 2016, we surveyed 1,000 UK adults about their experiences using dating websites or apps. All 1,000 were dating website or dating app users. The data in this report is unweighted and contains a spread of age ranges – 54% of respondents were male, 46% were female.
  1. How did users identify fake profiles?
  • Gut feeling (50%)
  • If you’re asked to send money (50%)
  • They ask you for too much personal information (41%)
  • Poor grammar / language despite claiming to be a native speaker (40%)
  • Invited to a different website (36%)
  • They fall in love with you too quickly (33%)

Press Release: , ,