What is your online dating horror story

Online dating: fraud with fake profiles

Status: 07/21/2017 3:00 p.m. | archive
by Niels Walker, David Peuyn, André Kroll

Nowadays, a partner for the night or love for life can be found in no time via app or dating portal - at least that's what the advertising suggests. But reality looks different. Singles are often tricked by fraudsters or flirting without knowing it with a professionally operated fake profile of the platform provider. In the online dating industry there are sometimes "mafia-like" companies that "rip off" people, says Daniel Balzer, operator of a comparison portal for singles exchanges, to Markt.

With fake profiles on the prowl

The fraudsters' approach is almost always the same: With photos stolen from the network, they create a fake profile. With this bogus identity, a relationship with a potential victim is established. It was the same with Sophia T., around 50, single. She met her supposed dream man through Tinder: entrepreneur, 50 years old, handsome. "When someone says, 'You are the love of my life and I've never felt for anyone like I did for you', one would like to believe it."

Claim for money because of an alleged emergency

Once the victim has been wrapped around his finger, the next step is: the fraudsters demand money - mostly they pretend an emergency situation. Sophia T. says: "Of course he came and said: 'Honey, if you are in an emergency, I would help you out. And you know exactly, we share everything together. And 500 euros is no money for me.'" Sophia T paid - apprenticeship. Because she soon realized that she had been caught by a fraud. "They play with your feelings and in the end let you fall like a hot potato," says Balzer. At least when there is no more money to be had.

Eight tips against fraudsters: How to recognize fake profiles

1. Use Google image search

Check the profile photo of your acquaintance using Google image search. So download the picture to your computer and then upload it to the Google image search. If there are hits that do not match the opponent, it is a fake.

2. Social media check

Almost everyone leaves their mark on the internet these days. Connect with the supposed dream partner via Facebook or Xing - do the profile and the friendships there look real? If the person opposite allegedly does not have a profile there, caution is advised.

3. Internet research

Enter the name of your new love in search engines like Google or Bing - do the hits confirm the identity or does the photo appear in completely different contexts?

4. Employer check

Also, dare to ask for the employer and look for their name on the company's website and call them there. Does the right person or a stranger answer? By the way: Most freelancers also have their own website, including your new partner?

5. Geolocation

You can share your location data with others via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Google Maps. Ask if he can send you his location - you would like to take a look at his home via Google Streetview. Does he accept or not?

6. Expert check

Check out forums like RomanceScamBaiter, which specialize in debunking marriage frauds. Or check whether the dating portal you are using is reputable at all with comparison portals such as single exchange comparison.

7. Arrange a meeting

Fraudsters almost never get involved in meetings. So insist on meeting in a public place and take a friend with you to be on the safe side. If there are always rejections and excuses, it is a fake.

8. Never transfer money

No matter how much the butterflies fly, catch them again when the money is asked. Never transfer money. No matter how plausible or heartbreaking the story may sound, it is guaranteed to be a cheater.

Platforms also want to earn money from singles

Not only so-called romance scammers are a danger for the wallets of singles on the net. Of course, the platform operators themselves also want to earn money from the customer - be it through the membership fee, extra costs for additional features or advertisements that are placed on the platform. That is legitimate, but the means some people use to keep customers on the platform for as long as possible and exempt them are often dubious.

Moderators record single profiles

Some portals work with fake profiles - even officially. The terms and conditions of the X2Love flirt portal state: "It can be assumed that all female profiles are fictitious profiles operated by moderators." But who reads the terms and conditions? When we asked, the operator replied that they didn't see themselves as a "dating, but as an entertainment and chat portal. (...) We don't cheat people, we entertain them!" Most singles should see it differently.

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Market | 07/24/2017 | 8:15 pm