Individuals looking for romantic connections have more to look out for these days than just a potentially fake profile.
The Better Business Bureau warned Tuesday of elevated online dating scams involving an illegitimate dating site with membership fees and fake dating profiles.
Some users may lack photos or other basic information, the BBB warned. The site could also have profiles that randomly vanish.
“It turns out that these other daters aren’t real! The site is filled with phony profiles make you think that the site has many members. Once you figure out the hoax, you try to cancel your membership. But the site just keeps billing you,” said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of BBB of Chicago and Northern Illinois.
In some instances, users were asked to pay the fake users on the site in order to contact them. One person reported having to buy “coins” to chat with other members, the BBB said.
“I was bombarded with messages from nearly 200 different users in only a few days and without even fully filling out a personal profile,” she told BBB Scam Tracker. “I paid for coins three times and double charged each time. This site hires operators to steal photos, assume fake identities, and then bombards users with messages to entice them into buying coins to conversate by lying and leading people on.”
How to spot fake dating sites, according to the BBB:
- Do research signing up
- Search of the dating website’s name along with the keywords “reviews” and “scams.”
- Understand how the website works
- If the payment system isn’t well documented or it's confusing, choose another dating service instead.
- If it’s too good to be true, it probably is
- If you haven’t completed your personal profile and people are lining up to meet you, it’s probably a scam, the BBB said.
- Use a credit card to pay for online services and memberships
- Paying with a credit card allows you to dispute any unauthorized charges or charges made for fake services. The same may not be true if you use your debit card or your bank's account and routing numbers.
- Never give money or personal information to a stranger
- According to the BBB, some con artists will ask for money so they can buy a flight to come visit or for some other “noble” reason. If someone asks for credit card, bank or government ID information, stop contacting the person.