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Have you ever met someone who seemed perfect on paper? You went on a few dates and stayed up all night texting back and forth. Everything seemed great, and you started to catch feelings…then the other shoe dropped.

They ghosted you. They told you that they’d met someone else. Perhaps you’d even caught them with someone else on a date while you were out and about. Maybe they lied to you about a dealbreaker. Or perhaps they were just a plain, old-fashioned jerk.

Online dating can be perilous. The dawn of the new century created a technological revolution, where we can buy most of our groceries and household items online and also meet potential friends and romantic partners. But just like selecting fruit on Amazon Fresh as opposed to in a traditional grocery store— it can be hard to spot a bad apple from a virtual distance.

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Thanks to quarantining due to COVID-19, single folks are now even more reliant on online dating to meet people, as old-time pursuits like bar hopping, going to gigs, and heading out to the club have all been hamstrung by the need to stay six feet apart in an outdoor setting.

If you’re using online dating to pass the time during COVID-19, be sure to pay attention to these sneaky signs that someone is not who or what they appear to be online.

Too Good To Be True

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When you’re looking for love, it’s easy to consciously overlook certain things that might not seem quite right to you. This is easy to explain and is the reason why love fraud is the one scheme that wrestles more dollars away from the average American than any other themed scam. We want to believe it.

But just because you want to believe that someone is genuinely interested in you, doesn’t make it so. And by willfully ignoring the big red flags, you could end up alone with thousands of dollars drained from your bank account. So when you’re using online dating, use some common sense and ask yourself — does this seem too good to be true?

For instance, someone reaches out to you on a dating app. In their profile photograph, they look like an actual swimsuit model. In fact, their profile picture looks like it’s been professionally taken, edited, and they look flawless. Before you fall head over heels, consider right-clicking on that image and running a Reverse Image Search on Google.

You might discover that this is actually a swimsuit model, and a sly catfish has stolen their likeness and is using it to try and defraud online daters.

Even if someone has a series of realistic-looking photographs, but they come on super strong and message you constantly, this is another tactic of scammers. Sometimes a scammer will go through people’s Instagram profiles in order to steal realistic-looking photographs.

If someone tells you everything that you want to hear, keep a skeptical voice in your head so you don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. And if things start to get serious, run a background check with a website like Instant Checkmate, so if someone has created a fake persona to con you, you’ll know about it before you get scammed.

Short On The Details

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Is someone’s dating profile really vague and short on the details? It’s always kind of suspicious if someone seems reluctant to reveal any information about them online. It’s possible that they’re shy, and didn’t know what to write about. But it’s also possible that there is a reason that they’re acting secretive. Perhaps they are already in a relationship (or married) offline, and they’re concerned about being caught in the act. Or perhaps this account belongs to a scammer, who is also hedging around the details so they don’t get caught out in a lie.

Hung Up On The Past

A relationship expert once said that if someone has a long list of ‘do not want’ on their online dating biography, it’s a really big sign that they’ve been jilted by an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend and are not over their past relationship. For instance, saying that they’re not “into drama” or “I’ve been hurt by love, so I’m not looking for anything serious” are all warning signs that someone should be spending time in therapy, rather than looking for love online.

Focused On The Physical

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If someone lays out schematics for their perfect boy or girl that reads like a casting call, it’s a really bad sign. For instance:

“Must be blonde and blue-eyed, who takes their physical fitness seriously and works out 4-5 times a week.”

This sounds like someone who is looking for a trophy, not a partnership. Swipe left.

Old Photographs

If you come across an online dating profile, and their main photograph looks like it was taken twenty years ago, be on high alert. This is not the person who will show up to dinner. When someone uses old or outdated photographs, it’s a sign that they’re not happy with who they are right now — and that in itself is a red flag. Not to mention that you have no idea what this person looks like in the present moment.

Too Many Filters

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On the flipside of someone using photographs that were taken in the 80s, watch out for the online dater who has Facetuned and filtered every inch of their dating portrait. You want to see what someone really looks like, and overusing the filters and Facetune is another sign that you’re not going to get to see an authentic side to your online date.

Contradicting Information

A pathological liar might not even be able to keep themselves from lying on their dating profile! The biggest things people lie about on dating websites are their age, weight, and height. If someone is listed as 25-30, but they profile references things that sound more like they are in their 40s or 50s, be on high alert.

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