How to Spot a Fake Profile

This post is part of a series of posts on online dating and Check out the other posts here:

If you haven’t noticed it already, there are tons of fakes, spammers, frauds inhabiting online dating sites. Match is a little better than a free site like plentyoffish, but it still has it’s share of fakes and scammers.

Where I live, I’ll probably identify one fake out of every 30 profiles. There are a number of tip-offs for spotting a fake and after reading this post you’ll be able to identify them too.

Why are there fakes? My theory is that the online sites actually employ people to re-post old, disabled accounts in order to balance out the male-to-female ratio. The ratio is already skewed against men, but these fakes give off the impression that there are a few more fish in the sea. I don’t have proof, but if you do a google search on “fake profiles” you’ll see a TON of consumer complaints. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Some fakes are spammers, and these folks are trying to induce you to send them a real email address. Others are scammers who will try to extract money from you after you contact them. Avoid all of these completely if you suspect a fake.

Most damning though, and this is conjecture, is that an online site employee would send you a wink or email from a fake account to get you to renew your subscription. I’ve often received what I felt like were fake flirtations when I didn’t have a lot of activity going on with my account.

Let’s dive in. Here’s how to spot a fake. I’ll use a profile I found recently as an example…

Okay, the first and biggest tip-off is that the fake doesn’t have any additional pictures. Rarely will a woman post only one picture. Even if she creates a new profile, she’ll usually upload at least 3-4 pictures. I’ve actually seen fakes with 2-3 pictures before, but these are infrequent. This is the first tip-off but in itself doesn’t guarantee a fake profile. Let’s keep going.

Tip-off number two. The fake has no “In my own words” section! Nada, zilch. Why? Because whoever is posting these are too lazy to actually fill out the profile. When I see this combined with only 1 picture, I’m 99% certain the profile is fake.

Number three. Note the bad writing in the “About me” paragraph. Notice it’s short, generic, and poorly written. Big tip-off there. Watch for a lack of specifics. Check out the very last line: “I hope Match you…” Bad english is the best tip-off because most scammers are non-English speakers.

My favorite part of the whole fake profile is the “About my date” section. Notice the scammer posted a broad height range (5′ to 7′), which is unrealistic. Real women are obsessive about height ranges and they sure as heck aren’t going to list 5’0″ as the minimum. Most chicks list around the 5’8″ to 6’4″ range, with the really hot chicks shifting towards the six-footers as a minimum. If you’re interested in reading about an awesome experiment one dude performed as it pertains to height and looks, see here.

Also, real people usually fill out the education, job, and income fields.

So there you go, a handful of tip-offs to separate wheat from chaff. Fake profiles are annoying but I don’t let it prevent me from using All online services have them and it’s like any other form of dating. There’s a game to be played and the game has pitfalls.

If you root out a fake, use the Report A Concern  feature on the right hand side of the profile to notify the customer service team. This will help to keep the overall community clean.

Have you ever encountered a fake profile or scammer on Let me know your experience in the comments below.

  • Dan

    I’m a single male, 44 yrs old, and I have a profile on Match. A few days ago, I received a *wink* from a woman (presumably) aged 42, without a photo, whose profile indicated that she’s looking for someone between 18 and 35. The red alerts are now going off, but it gets better. In one essay, she states that she was a teacher for 34 years; she started teaching when she was 8 yrs old? Talk about precocious!

  • David

    After she winked, I replied hilariously, very winning I thought. She replied back in an email, very winning also, I thought. I joked about her random screenname. She joked back and said initials ‘DCR’ stood for something. But she didn’t have ‘DCR’ in her screenname. I assume at this point she/he is using several fake accounts, and he/she got confused. I email back, very winning, and at the end joke that I must be tired, as I don’t see ‘DCR’ in her account. Shortly after, her name in the ‘messages’ section and ‘who’s viewed you’ section don’t jive, totally new name. My profile is suddenly viewed 9 times, but no knew faces. Then her name is corrected to the original. I of course take screen shots of all this as it transpires. She emails back (probably 5th response), ignoring my joke (as I realize that in early emails she ignores all clever references and focuses solely on the broad, easy questions), and asks to meet for drinks. I agree (believing it’s fake) and encourage her to pick the spot, testing her/his resolve to continue the lie. No response. With the screen shots and odd turn of events, is that proof that someone at match is manipulating the accounts, sending false emails? It’s quite sinister really, to think someone is employed to generate and maintain interest in the website under false pretenses. One thing to maintain old accounts, and probably more than a little dishonest to possibly generate totally fake ones, but it’s quite another to employ personnel to play the game, asking me questions and gathering personal (not that personal, I’m not that naive) information I would volunteer only to a trusted person. And there is no ‘scam’ here by anybody else, it appears to be an action of Match. How has nobody come forth, how has it not been undeniably revealed? Is some sort of public reveal or shaming merited? I know some of the people are real, I’ve dated them, so it’s not a blanket statement of false goods, just a debate on the ethics of the company. Plus I want my money back, who knows how much time I’ve wasted on fake profiles over a year.

  • Jax

    Yep. It’s exactly that.

  • Jason

    Wow, I’m glad I found this article! Reading these comments made me stop questioning my sanity. Here’s the story: I live in a rural area, where there aren’t many users to begin with. I’ve checked in once or twice in the past, but this time, there is a woman on there that looks too good to be true (in fact, why haven’t I seen her around town?). She’s attractive, and knows how to spell…and we’re literally a perfect match (given the fairly generic criteria). There are only two other local men that come up as being matches as well, but they both haven’t signed in for “more that 3 weeks.” So I give her a chance, and shoot off an email. No reply, but I notice she signs on in the mornings, and in the evenings, so I just figure I wasn’t her type after all, or maybe she is busy with men from father away. I take her off my favorites, and she stops signing on! (search for the bob davis comment above). I figure I must be going crazy, so I repeat the experiment three more times over the course of two weeks. When I favorite her, she’ll come online in the morning and the evening, at the EXACT (down to the minute!) same time daily, but as soon as I remove her from favorites, she won’t sign on until added again. Her profile is VERY realistic, with multiple pictures, believable requirements, etc. I only wish I hadn’t wasted my time and money thinking about someone who doesn’t exist. I signed up for because I thought it was a fairly reputable company — I think I’ll stick to dating the old fashioned way from now on.

  • Sandra Turner

    I caught my boyfriend with an online account at plenty of fish and Then all of a sudden he has TRUST issues! He’s been on match since June 13 and finally told me Saturday we need to go our separate ways. 37 y/o white male army officer in Alexandria VA. Thankfully I found out before he moved in (we were planning on getting married). Ladies beware. Hello! Last year I met a guy on and we spent a lot of time together and dating exclusively, however he spent numerous hours online each day and lied to me about where he was at or what I was doing. You want to catch them, hide your profile so they don’t know you can see. The site is full of PLAYERS & FAKES! Its a REAL MEAT MARKET! You pay for and feel like a used dish rag when you’re finished!

  • smootheyes

    My experience with match is not a great one so far because I realise that and I have been talking to someone who lives in silver spring maryland and he has 2 different account on match,com…. Then I realise he is not the age he says he is he is much older… I am not sure why he is doing that but he must be trying to prove himself at 68 years old, he can still do the job (LOL) sorry I find it funny but also very frustrated. Does he need a reality check I hope he gets it very soon because if he thinks that he will get a younger woman that is his age range he need a big fat wallet… sorry but that how I feel

  • brenda

    So many dishonest people on this site
    5 guys all claiming to be widowers with
    one child.All on construction projects overseas.The tip off to me was the roaming phones starting with the#0114470.All men had very strong accents and were hard to understand. Fortunately I “woke up” just in
    time and cancelled Oh one more thing
    they were saying they were in UK,Ghana orDubai

  • Bex is sickening and should be investigated for fraud.

    Here’s my story…

    I was originally on “Yahoo Personals” but hadn’t used the site in months, I received an mail from Yahoo saying their dating site was closing down, and I had the option to transfer to their new partner, which I said why not.

    Yahoo offered a free 4 day trial, but I Googled a bit and found a link for a 7 day trial.

    After signing up I got quite a few winks and emails, and one guy in particular caught my eye, so I winked back. He then messaged me, and we continued to message each other back and forth over the course of 5 days, then suddenly the messages from him stopped.

    I had thought about renewing my membership after the free trial, mainly because there were others I was still interested in contacting, him especially, and also another guy who was emailing me.

    I signed up for 1 month subscription at a discounted rate–I emailed the other guy and we exchanged a few messages, then guess what suddenly he stopped responding too. And over 3 weeks no email from the other guy.

    Like a girl I assumed it was me, but then I said that’s impossible because the email exchanges were lite, small talk no real specifics.

    Oh and interestingly enough today I got two winks from pretty decent looking guys which neither of them viewed my profile, yet sent me winks.LOL When I went to view both of their profiles I got an error “saying the profile could not be found” this is when I’m logged in, yet when I log out and click on the link there profile pops up.

    It’s truly sad that a company can toy with people emotions, especially people who are lonely and just looking to meet someone.

    I only hope Karma serves it’s purpose!

  • jody henry

    Recently had an experience at Match. Had alot of winks from guys but all from different states. Only 1 guy from my hometown winked at me he had a nice profile was attractive with a cute little girl in his pic. I emailed and thanked him for the wink. We began talking after that directly to YM. He said his name was Charles Detert and he was half German. After talking for a few days in reported to me “Im in love with you and miss you so much” lol. Now this guy has never met me face to face or offered to. To make a long story short he told me he was a construction engineer and was going to LA then to Paris to work on getting a contract. Here is where the scam comes in, he then began asking me for money. Ofcourse I didnt give it to him and called him a few choice names and eliminated all ways for him to contact me. Havent heard from him since. Just wanted to get my story out there in case any women run into this guy on Match or other websites.

  • terri

    All this Match smack talk! At the risk of sounding like a shill, Match has, by far, the largest “stable” (funny word) of singles, most of whom are clearly real. They probably stack the deck a bit when they show search results. The default sort criteria is by “match pick”. Of _course_ they’re going to throw in some in-the-last-month-of-subscription “picks”. Wouldn’t you if you were they?

    Match wants to make money. They don’t care about your lonely heart. They provide a service, it’s not all that expensive, and, yes, they may have blazed the trail for more insidious and nefarious sites that are filled with obviously fake profiles, and, sure, there was a scuttlebutt over accusations that they were hiring models to go on dates, but…

    Fraud? I doubt it. As another contributor said, they’d risk their reputation and income by being stupidly fraudulent?

    Use it for what you can, be smart, never give out personal information (even your real name) until you’ve met the person and ask to see his/her ID when you meet before you say a word!

    I keep hearing, in this thread and others and from some of my friends, that the best thing to do is to jump to the first meet as quickly as possible. I’ve been on match, I’ve met men online on other venues…I disagree. Establishing a repoire through email and through phone calls, as “phony” as that might seem (it’s not phony, it’s just new and different) is a good way to tell if there’s enough evidence to continue. If you take the hand-wringing attitude that online match-making is sad and impersonal, then stay out of it.

    I’ve made a few very good male friends (and, in one notable case, a female friend who was a friend of a fellow I thought I was interested in) through match etc. We took the time to write, to talk, and we thought there was something there. We met and…nothing. No spark. But no harm done, “like” can be good enough if it’s honest. If I’d met said “no more writing, no more talking, we meet NOW” I don’t think I would have ever seen them again.

    Match (et al) can work, but you can’t get carried away—and you can’t get pissed off if you meet some scam artists. You can meet them anywhere. It’s a whole hell of a lot easier to say “fuck off” to someone who asks you for pity money when you’ve met the online than it is to have the temerity to do so if you’ve met them in real life and fallen for their gag.

  • Jimmy

    I am a current member of Match. Yesterday I received a “wink” from a lady who claim she lives in Jacksonville Florida (my town) and is a 3rd generation Jaxville lady. I emailed her yesterday and after checking her profile later that evening, it was changed to a new user name with new pictures and a listing for Colorado. Today, the profile is not available. This just smells funny. If Match is behind this, it is just wrong and unethical.

  • Lynn

    I put a profile on match and received a wink. the picture was nice and their email address was in their profile, so i didn’t pay any money. we chatted for awhile and their profile was immediately removed. when i started pushing for a phone conversation, it had been dropped in the tub. wanted to wait awhile till got a new one. how long does it take to get a new phne. finally the emails just stopped. so a week later get another wink, nice, small pic with their email address in the profile. we started chatting on yahoo, just like the first one, but i noticed they both dealt in antiques, they had had the name of a writer, i googled them, so i tell this one, call me, i need to see your area code on my phone to match with the state. well incidentally the phone is not working at this time. go figure. and thier english became very bad after the first email. so i don’t know what kind of scam they are playing, i didn’t pay and wouldn’t have to to talk to them, but too many coincidences in such a short period. any suggestions on these ones??

  • Christin

    Winks aren’t exactly useless. In fact it could save time. It lets one know your interested and if its mutual..go on from there. Emailing takes more time and effort so why waste it on people who won’t respond. I’m a very busy woman and don’t have time for wasted emails. As I stated,winks should be a first step to let someone know your interested. Then move forward.

  • Jane L.A.

    Disgusted with Match after two months I was cancelling, completing a questionaire, explaining that women in late fourties and above cant’ be successful, as men who are age appropriate, are sexually appealing, successful to match a succesful, beautiful older women will only search women 8 – 20 years younger. That’s reality, so match does not work for older women. All of a sudden in a few days, I get four winks, not emails, just WINKS,and Interest indications from all the Model looking men in their early 50’s . Definitely Stock photo, just 1 photo,..Perfect lighting, looks like a male model in a catalogue clothing ad or racer on a bike looking like Lance Armstrog with dark sunglasses. AND,, to illustrate this OUTRAGEOUS SCAM, so detectable, the mock up fake male profile indicates as a 49 year old male his DATE RANGE WOULD BE 45-66 years old. HUH? Are you kidding a handsome model would date a 66 year old women????? There is no answers on his preferences such as height, racial preference, body type. NO man would not be specific about body type, and just leave the details blank I wrote a stern letter to Match telling them how unlawful, illegal the scam is to trick Members to renew. It’s also VERY CRUEL to the dim bulb older women who get excited and hopes high to renew, thinking that a handsome model looking male would be interested in them. Shameful SCAM with match. I can’t be fooled.

  • B

    I usually try to look people up on myspace or facebook to avoid paying for an account. This makes sense as to why I don’t really find people. (It’s possible though, I’ve found a few)

  • jean

    I posted on and i only uploaded one pic of myself, to me that is enough, i notice some people put huge amounts of photos on their profile and it seems to me they have been online search for the perfect companion for years, so more pics to me uploaded equals over-kill.
    i also left many fields filling out the questionnaire wide open in hopes of meeting new people that i would normally never meet, like, i don’t care the height, the income, the education etc . so , according to your post my profile ad would look fake and that is far from the truth.

    now do i have a new partner because my ad is correct, no, but i do have many men that i chat with because they live far away and i have done some fishing/diving/hiking with others i met in my town but no sparks for them or me as yet.
    i’m cool with it cause it’s enjoyable to have interactions with strangers cause i find it exciting enough.

  • Frank

    I post here the european experience with dating sites. We europeans we deal a lot with african profiles, due to the fact that we have the same time zone. Some are genuine, some are scams trying phishing or getting your money.

    My 2 penny advice is quite simple, it burns all bogus profiles and make you save lot of time.

    Just ask their yahoo ou windows messenger, and require a chat with camview. This removes all incongruences between photo and real person.
    To avoid pre recorded videocams ask them to rise their right arm at one given moment, if they fail to do it it’s a pre recorded session
    Last but not least ask them their mobile phone number, call them and look if they answer in front of you in the cam

    Very simple. I’m meeting real and interesting people from Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon….
    It just takes some good sense

    In Africa there are cybers everywhere now, all equipped with cams
    And many africans have their laptop with cam now
    Never believe stories like “cam is broken”, “I just lost my phone” “i hate cybers because I’m scared of people attending them” (cybers are very safe, I used them a lot myself)

    Hope I was useful

  • terri

    Wow. Frank sounds like a stalker and a bit of a perv. Or at least paranoid…and a stalker. Yeah, great advice. Jump on that webcam as soon as possible.

    “To avoid pre recorded videocams…” you’re joking, right? Maybe I’m just out of the loop but…uhm, how about exchanging a few emails and then talk on the phone? If you’re not a moron, you should be able to sort the scammers from the people who are authentic. If some guy asked me to turn on my webcam and follow his exercise instructions, I’d really wonder about his emotional maturity.

    How about some real advice (and this is probably more for women than men):

    – Spend $10 and do a background check on your date that includes criminal records.

    – When you meet for the first time, ask to see his/her driver’s license. I do this all the time, and I’ve only had two guys refuse. Instantly out of there.

    – Do _not_ ever ever ever do the webcam thing until you’ve met someone in person.

    – _Never_ meet someone for the first time without telling a friend where you’re going, what the other person’s name is, where they live, and when you expect to be back. If it all checks out, give your friend a call–in your date’s presence–and say it’s ok, and then tell your friend that you’ll call when you’re heading home. If your date is safe and sane (and that means 98% of the time), they’ll be flattered that you’re taking it seriously, and will treat you with respect. If they’re offended–leave.

    – When you meet someone for the first time, make sure it’s in public and that there will be people around. (Duh)

    – Arrive early.

    Hope I’ve been helpful. Or you could just take frank’s advice and turn on your webcam. It’s all good, right frank?

    Nope, frank, you weren’t useful. Amusing, but not useful.

  • Honey

    I don’t even HAVE a webcam. Or a smart phone.

  • Jane L.A.

    Regarding the Faked, Mocked up dummy Match Com mens profiles in the later 40’s – mid 50’s ranges, i’m a 49 y.o female. As my membership was to expire in a few days,still receiving fraudulent mens’ profiles Winks”, actually emails now with one short complimentary sentence, I replied stating since “I’ve been getting so many faked impersonations of Winks, and Emails from the match team to trick me to renew, Here’s my direct phone number. If you are truly a “REAL” genuine interested guy, please call me. If I don’t hear from you via a phone call, that’s PROOF this is another deceptive email from match employees. I NEVER received any calls when I immediately provide my number in a return reply.In two months, I’ve only talked to two men, had somewhat okay conversations, never heard from them again. Seems these were also match employees, as one guys personality didn’t seem to match his profile experience for his age of 50, he was vague, I asked how he made his living, who he worked for, he replies, on the interent from home, it’s secret, NOW it makes sense, he was a Match covert operative, pretending to be interested said he’d call me back and set up a date later….Never heard from him again. I’m disgusted and feel robbed, fooled, by Match’s deceptive, fruadulent business practices. I also edited the first sentance in my profile stating, I did NOT renew, can’t open emails. Match denied, and did not approve of this change. So I am deleting my profile completely. Match NEEDS to have your inactive profile to FOOL others you are still active, misleading, unethical, so I have it invisible at the moment.

  • publius

    Since many folks come here to seek good advice regarding online dating, I’d like to address one bizarre comment from above: a women mentioned that if she sees a guy posting a 50 mile range she knows he is a “player” — I truly don’t understand this.

    I live in a rural area 70 miles away from two major cities (I’m in between). What do you think my range is going to be? Of course I’m going to be happy to drive an hour to see someone. It’s not a big deal. It doesn’t mean that someone is a “player” (whatever that means, really). It just means they know there’s a big world outside of their own town.

  • Michael

    I’m a 53 year old male doing off and on for over 10 years and have have been very successful on it. I have met scores of quality women, some of whom I’ve shared in relationships. I am an average looking guy, about 20-30 lbs overweight, don’t state my income on Match, but am six feet tall. Here’s a few suggestions to get the most bang for your buck… 1) You must write an intelligent grammatically correct profile with some good humor that accurately represents who you are and what you are seeking. Women like guys who appear confident and know what they want in life, and have the experience behind that. 2) Do not lie or misrepresent yourself; women will read you like a book 3) Frequently make small changes to your profile because that will send your profile back to the top of the stack when someone does a search for matching profiles. 4) Do not waste your time trying to get to know someone through email. Get on the phone and agree to meet for Coffee or a drink should the conversation flow well. Do not obligate yourself for an elaborate date until you’ve already met and believe there is sufficient chemistry. 5) Online dating is entirely a numbers game. Have several possibilities in the pipeline because finding that elusive chemistry and compatibility is quite difficult.

    Last night my account on Match was hijacked by a spammer. I received an email from an alleged interested woman and it contained a link to a URL. Stupid me! After I clicked on the link, I have not been able to log back into Match.

  • Gina

    How about one I met on afro who is has the same age range…acting all smooth…come to find out he is a Catholic priest with a bunch of baloni. I thought they are supposed to be celibate?…I tell you

  • Gina

    Beware too many scams online. I only gave match a chance once to no avail. However I have tried other christian sites etc and the story is the same. I met this guy, we talked for a while and exchanged numbers. Next thing I knew he was calling me other girls’ names (on 3 occasions). I was very disgusted and blocked my number. After a while I tried afrointroductions and for a minute thought I had connected with this seemingly laid back guy, christian etc come to realize he was a catholic priest trying to lay someone..he said he eventually confessed he wanted to have a baby before he dies…I thought they are supposed to be celibate? Be careful…take your time to know someone and tell a lot about yourself yet until you get to know someone well.

  • Jax

    Just have to take it lightly and not put too much into it.