When using any kind of dating app, it’s best to verify your identity so that other users know it’s really you. But more nefarious dating app users want to exploit this step and con victims. So, how do dating verification scams work, and how can you avoid them?
What Is a Dating Verification Scam?
ID verification has become commonplace on dating apps, as catfishing scams continue to put users at risk. Not only might a user be uploading someone else’s photos to their profile, but the person behind the facade may be dangerous.
To lower the chance of fakers, users are often asked to verify their identity. This isn’t compulsory on all apps, but many will add a verification tick to your profile if you do provide a valid form of ID, letting other users know that you’re the real deal. You may have assumed that dating verification scams involve malicious users bypassing the verification process while still getting a tick on their profile. Indeed, this is partially what the term refers to.
It’s still very easy to create a fake profile on most dating apps. Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge are among the most popular dating apps right now, yet they do not enforce ID verification. There are dating platforms that do require ID verification, such as eHarmony, but this certainly isn’t the case across the board.
A lot of dating app users now avoid profiles that haven’t been verified, as this prevents them from connecting with someone who is faking their identity. However, malicious actors will still try to get that verification tick without being truthful about who they are.
On Tinder, for instance, ID verification is done by “striking a pose”. In this process, users are asked to strike the same pose as the provided stock photo to make sure they’re real. However, Tinder cannot know for sure if you are the exact same person as the one displayed on your profile. This leaves space for deception. Bumble, another hugely popular dating app, also uses this method.
There are even how-to videos available that show you how to bypass Tinder ID verification, so this trick is no secret.
How Else Do Verification Scams Work?
Dating verification scams can also involve a malicious user requesting that another user verify their identity through a link they provide. This may seem like a dead giveaway, but if the victim has developed a rapport with the scammer, they may be more inclined to cooperate.
This link will lead you to a webpage that requests an array of information, such as your name, home address, email address, and phone number. This is all requested under the guise of the verification process, but the reality is far more nefarious. The page you’re sent to actually has nothing to do with Tinder, and is built to mimic the platform. Whatever data is entered into the present fields will be collected by the malicious operator.
This form of dating verification scam could be considered a phishing attack, as it requires a victim to enter sensitive data into a provided malicious link.
This second type of dating verification scam may involve the use of bots. A bot can easily communicate with other users on a dating app, most likely to carry out a scam. We’ll get into how to spot a bot a little later.
You may also encounter dating verification scams through another vector, such as SMS or email. Such scams will follow a similar script, wherein the target user is asked to verify their dating app account via a provided link. Once again, this link is malicious and will be used to steal data.
How Common Are Dating Verification Scams?
Dating scams are nothing new. Leveraging feelings for exploitation has been a known trick for a long time. Honeypots, fake sugar daddies or sugar mommies, and pig butchering are all popular ways that scammers use love and attraction to get their hands on data and money. Cybercriminals are now even using AI to develop effective dating scams, so this malicious industry is still booming.
You may not have heard of dating verification scams before, but they’re by no means rare. Among the other methods mentioned above, ID verification scams can be very effective in data theft. It’s not awfully hard to pull off this kind of scam, though the attacker may need to build a faux relationship with their victims before making any kind of unusual request.
How to Avoid Dating Verification Scams
Scammers often flock to dating apps to con victims, because they have a greater chance of manipulating them emotionally. People have lost thousands to dating app scams, so don’t be too quick to assume you’d never fall victim to such a swindle. So, how can you tell if your match is fake?
To protect yourself on such apps, there are a few dating red flags to look out for.
Firstly, if any dating service match ever sends you a link, avoid opening it. You may have been talking to this person for days or weeks, therefore believing that you can trust them. But until you’ve met and spent time with this individual, it’s unwise to assume that they have good intentions.
You can also take a look at the photos being used by your matches. Some fake profiles use professional images of influencers or celebrities or just one or two photos that are very similar. Dating apps suggest that you upload at least four or five photos for a reason: people can get an idea of what you actually look like. So, if the photos uploaded by a user are limited, they may be hiding something.
Many fake dating profiles omit their bio, education, or profession. Some scammers just don’t want to waste time fully filling out a fake profile, and would rather use images to lure in matches. Certain scammers will even hide their age and location. If a given user hasn’t provided any information beyond their name and age, you could be dealing with a malicious actor or a bot.
Take note of the language being used by any of your matches. If the language is broken or comes across as unusually formal, you may be talking to a scammer or a bot. Additionally, if one of your matches is being very persuasive and persistent about you opening a link they’ve sent, consider this a red flag.
Dating Verification Scams Are Rife and Dangerous
It’s easy to assume that you’d simply never fall for any dating scam, but attackers can be surprisingly sophisticated in how they target and lure in victims. Be aware of what dating verification scams look like so that you can avoid falling victim to this kind of sneaky swindle.