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8 Dating App Red Flags to Help You Spot the Next Tinder Swindler

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Ever wondered if your online dating suitor is trying to scam you? Sometimes the lines can be blurred, and scammers can be so subtle that you don’t realize that you’ve been taken for a ride until it’s too late.

Here are some of the red flags you need to look out for to help you spot a potential dating scammer.

Dating Scams Are on the Rise

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As ridiculous as The Tinder Swindler may have seemed to some, it is a notable example of people getting scammed on dating apps. In fact, the statistics show that dating scams are on the rise.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s report, dating scams hit record highs in 2020, with reported losses amounting to $304 million—up about 50 percent from 2019. That’s about $2,500 lost per individual.

As stated in the report:

It is reasonable to wonder: what happened in 2020 to make these dollars losses continue to spike? An obvious reason may be the pandemic limiting our ability to meet in person. But outside the pandemic, the share of people who have ever used an online dating site or app has also been rising. And romance scammers are primed to take advantage.

Related: Adult Website Email Scam: Don’t Give Bitcoin to Thieves

So, how can you protect yourself from online dating scams?

How to Spot Scams on Dating Apps

Client red flags

Here’s what to look out for to avoid being scammed when looking for love.

1. They Ask for Money

An online dating scammer will almost always ask you to send them money via apps like Cash App, PayPal, and Venmo. They typically have a reason on hand, but one of the most common is that their money is tied up in a huge business deal.

Another one could be a supposedly sick child or being stuck abroad. If your online suitor uses these reasons to ask you for money, you can guarantee they’re scamming you.

And if their behavior towards you changes after you refuse to give them money, that will confirm that they’re scamming you.

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2. They Ask for Something Too Early

Some online dating scammers are bold enough to ask for something, notably money, after connecting with you online for a short while—like after a few weeks—but there is no sensible reason to send funds to someone you’ve just met online.

If your suitor has genuine intentions, they will not take advantage of your trust or vulnerability by asking for money from the onset.

3. They Need Help Urgently

One of a scammer’s favorite tactics is to create a sense of urgency when asking you for money, in some cases even demanding it based on the premise that you’re a couple and partners help each other out.

To that end, scammers typically use emotional manipulation to get you to give them what they want. If your online suitor has an emergency that requires that you send them an online payment to get them out of a bind, block them.


Related: Sophisticated Social Media Scams You Need to Avoid

4. They Emotionally Blackmail You

If you sound suspicious or apprehensive about giving your online suitor some cash or vouchers, they may resort to emotionally blackmailing you to make you feel bad enough to reconsider.

Some of their favorite lines include:

  • “I thought you cared about me.”
  • “Why should I ask someone else when I can ask my girlfriend/boyfriend?”
  • “The sooner I get the money, the sooner I can come see you.”

5. They Ask for Sexual Content

Woman Taking Selfie on Camera

Sometimes online dating scammers will build trust with you to the point where you feel comfortable enough to send them nude or explicit content.

To get you to oblige, they will shower you with compliments. Once you’ve shared that content with them, they can use it to blackmail you into sending them money indefinitely. This is commonly known as “sextortion”.


Never send any images or videos of yourself in compromising positions, no matter how much you trust the person.

6. They Ask You to Purchase Gift Cards for Them

In cases where you are unable to send your online suitor money, they may ask you to send them multiple gift cards instead, so they can sell them for cash.

Some popular gift cards that scammers ask for are from large retailers like Target or for other brands like Apple. Some retailers have caught on to this trend and will warn you about gift card fraud if you purchase multiple gift cards at a time.

7. They Ask You to Take Out a Loan

Another way that online dating scammers get you to send them cash is by convincing you to take out a loan on their behalf. They may tell you they can’t do it themselves due to credit or immigration-related issues.


They don’t intend to pay you back. Never apply for a loan on behalf of anyone, no matter how much you trust them, to avoid being left with a debt you cannot pay.

8. They Ask for Your Personal Info

worn black private street sign with white lettering against a concrete wall

Sometimes, online dating scammers ask for your personal details, like your social security number or your full name as it appears on your ID, to obtain fraudulent documents with which they will operate their scams or illegal activities.

You should never share private data, i.e. information you wouldn’t share with a stranger, with anyone you’re dating online

Look Out for Red Flags When Dating Online

As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. When you know what to look out for, you can be better prepared and equipped to know when someone is trying to scam you.

However, this can take time. Just ensure you take your time getting to know someone you’re talking to online, so that you better gauge whether their intentions are genuine or not.


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