Some people — like the Simon Levievs of the online dating world — may even intentionally cause harm, disregard how you feel, and have ulterior motives for their benefit.
Be careful when you’re on dating apps, and don’t waste your time, heart, or effort on just anybody. To avoid falling for someone who doesn’t actually care about you and building a mutually fulfilling relationship together (or someone who will put you into thousands of dollars of financial debt within a couple of months), here are 10 ways to reduce your chances of getting swindled by your next date.
1. Double check their claims on the internet
If your match on a dating app says that they’re the son of a billionaire or that they work for one of the most prestigious companies in the world. don’t take them at their word. There’s always a risk involved when meeting someone online, but EliteSingles and other dating apps help out by verifying profiles and removing those they determine are fake. But that doesn’t mean you should skip doing your own digging and due diligence to be absolutely sure you’re interacting with someone legit.
You’ll want to research your date and fact-check their big claims before you automatically believe them. Check their LinkedIn pages, scope out their tagged photos on social media, and run reverse address lookups or reverse phone lookups. Even zoom into their images to make sure that they’re not Photoshopped or altered at all. These things may seem overboard or like you’re creeping on them, but it’s for your own safety – emotionally, financially, and in general.
2. Do a reverse image search online
Wondering if your date’s photos are really theirs? All you have to do is screenshot pictures from their dating app profile or save the pictures they sent you via text and upload them to a reverse image search website. Once you do that, a results page will let you know if the picture you uploaded is unique or seen anywhere else on the internet. If you find that the images are all over the web or are actually of a celebrity or someone else with a different name, you know that your date isn’t portraying themself to be who they really are.
There are plenty of free reverse image search platforms to choose from. For example, you can run your match’s pictures through TinEye or Google Images. It’s a quick and easy process that can save you a ton of time wasted if they turn out to be a catfish or a liar.
3. Never send money to people you recently met
No matter how reliable you think someone may be, it’s not the smartest idea to send them money. This is especially true if you just met the person or have only been talking to them for just a few months. If the person you just matched with on an app says that they’re in trouble and need thousands of dollars sent to them as soon as possible, or they need you to open up a credit card and send it to them, or take out a loan for them, or if you need to do anything else shady to give them money, don’t do it.
Someone asking you to send them money so quickly (especially large sums of money) may be a sign that they’re not financially secure or that they might be using you for your hard-earned cash. Keep your money and run so you don’t get scammed by a master fraud.
4. Be wary of extravagant dates
A date at a five-star hotel and a plane ride to a different country sounds magical, luxurious, and super romantic… but maybe not on the first day that you meet someone off of a dating app. This is an extremely risky date idea, especially for women. There are so many risks involved here (like human or sex trafficking or getting kidnapped, for example), and none of them are ever worth a fancy dinner or cool travel story.
If you get a good vibe from your date after you meet for the first time, that’s great! Continue talking with them and escalate your dates to more extravagant experiences as time goes on and trust is built. Sticking to low-key plans for the first few dates enables you to test the waters in the safest way possible.
5. Don’t share any sensitive personal information
Yes, it’s okay and even encouraged to open up to your dates and get vulnerable with them. Letting them get to know you on a deeper level can help you figure out if you’re compatible and whether or not you can develop a connection that goes beyond the surface level.
Beware if your new crush is asking you to send them a picture of your passport, license, social security card, credit card, or any other important documents. These should be kept private because they contain such sensitive information. Sharing things like this could lead to getting your identity stolen, having them take financial advantage of you, or getting blackmailed if you don’t do what they want. Zoosk and other dating apps provide online dating safety guides to help you avoid being misled or swindled.
6. Be realistic
It’s totally natural to want a fairytale type of love, be a hopeless romantic, or crush on someone really hard. It’s another thing to not think things through just because you’re wearing rose-colored glasses. If you fall into the second category, it’s time to get real.
Step outside of love and fantasy for a second, and be logical about the situation at hand. For example, do you really think your new date is a millionaire if he’s asking you for $50,000? This is an extreme case, but it clearly has happened before, so it could happen to you, too. If you’re blinded by love, you can even ask a trusted loved one for their opinion. Whatever you do, be realistic with yourself and about the relationship.
7. Beware of people who have “enemies”
Simon Leviev had enemies who were constantly after him. He was fleeing around to different countries basically every day of his life to avoid these people who were out to get him (while he was really partying and living it up on other people’s dimes). He also said that his credit cards were being tracked, and he was always in some sort of danger.
Anyone who claims that they have enemies should be a big red flag. Not everyone is going to be liked, of course, but having an enemy (or more than one) is another story. Why do they have people after them? And do you really want to get involved with somebody who’s on bad terms with people like that? Don’t wait to find out. Run in the other direction.
8. Keep your guard up
Trust should be earned instead of freely given. You never really know a person’s intentions until you know them for a while. And even still, it’s important to question some things. It’s also important to keep in mind that dating scams can happen to anyone, at any stage of life.
Keep your guard up, at least for the first few months of getting to know someone. Let them prove that they’re worthy of your vulnerability, help, and love instead of giving it away to anybody. Yes, master manipulators are good at convincing people that they’re trustworthy and genuine. But getting to know someone and letting trust build over time instead of jumping in head over heels can protect your heart.
9. Learn about relationship abuse
“The Tinder Swindler” showed so many red flags from the very beginning. For example, he had a tendency to shower women with fancy gifts and expensive experiences to gain their trust and seem like he was rich and loving, when he really wasn’t. He was also extremely manipulative and abusive to his partners.
Learning about abuse within relationships can help you to spot those red flags and deal-breakers before you get into trouble and fall in love with someone with abusive tendencies. These people tend to be very charming, which can be tricky to navigate. Consider researching topics like love bombing, narcissistic personality disorder, and abuse in general to educate yourself and avoid toxic relationships.
10. Speak with a therapist
If you don’t already have one, consider reaching out to a mental health professional or therapist to seek help with your relationships and dating life. A relationship coach could be another great person to speak to.
Either person will be able to help you build up your self-esteem, offer insight on how to enter healthier relationships or give you advice on your current situation. No matter what your questions and needs are, it can be a smart idea to talk about them with a non-judgmental third-party professional who’s trained to help!
Yes, there are people out there who have bad intentions and don’t really even want to date, even on the best dating apps with verified profiles. But there are also plenty of amazing potential partners who are ready to care about you and treat you well. It’s up to you to use your better judgment, support system, and resources to stay safe, protect your heart, and find them.