Online Dating Scams

Online Dating

5 Common Online Dating Scams & 9 Trusted Sites – Feb. 2024

Brittney Mayer

Written by: Brittney Mayer

Brittney Mayer

Brittney’s research background has been put to good use at She is skilled at developing thorough articles and guides for the informed dater, and her rigorous editorial chops have impressed experts in the field. When she's not typing up a storm, she enjoys traveling, watching "Star Trek" marathons, and finding activities that provide unique mental and physical challenges.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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Online dating scams are unfortunately still prevalent and impact thousands of people. In 2018, the FBI received 351,937 romance scam complaints. It’s no secret that there are deceptive people online who want to take advantage of vulnerable and lonely individuals — and they see singles on dating sites as easy targets.

Our goal is to arm you against those cybercriminals, so you don’t become one of those 5,800 complaints. We’ve put together some important tips about spotting and avoiding online dating scams and choosing dating sites you can rely on to keep you safe. Feel free to use the links below if you want to jump ahead in the article.

Spotting Online Dating Scams | Scam-Free Dating Sites

Ways to Spot Common Online Dating Scams

Staying safe online is all about knowing what to look for. Here are some of the most common online dating scams we’ve found in our research and how to avoid them. Once you’re in the know, the power is in your hands.

1. They Ask for Money

Someone with genuine intentions will never ask a stranger online for money — that’s what friends, family, and banks are for. If a match is asking you to pay for something — whether for their travel arrangements to come see you, their online dating membership because it’s expiring soon, or anything else — block and report that person to the site right away. No exceptions. Under no circumstances is it O.K. to give money to someone you don’t know.

2. They Use Poor Grammar and Make a Lot of Spelling Mistakes

We all miss commas and make typos here and there, but if a dating profile or message is made up of 90% mistakes, that’s cause for an eyebrow raise. A significant number of scammers are from other countries (usually Russia, Nigeria, Ghana, Ukraine, South Africa, Jamaica, or Brazil), so keep an eye out for a lot of broken English and weird word choices.

It’s also worth copying and pasting a few of their sentences into Google to see if they stole that language from someone else or another site.

3. They Have Few Pictures or Only One

When you’re online dating, photos are equally as important as text, so if you’re talking with someone who only has one blurry or stock photo, your Spidey sense should be tingling. Sometimes the profile’s photo looks too good to be true. Sure, maybe there are model-quality single gals out there, but a lot of times a scammer will post a photo of a beautiful young woman to target single men, especially older men.

You could try to prove they are who they say they are by making a game of it. Send a selfie (keep it PG) and ask for one of them in return. You can also plug the photo into TinEye’s reverse image search to see if it appears somewhere else (aka a stock photo depository).

4. They Express Strong Feelings for You Very Soon

Love at first sight can definitely happen, and there have been plenty of stories about people who fell in love within weeks of meeting and who are still together today. However, online daters should guard their feelings during those early stages when they’re getting to know someone because it’s so easy to lie, embellish, and misjudge people online.

Remember that you don’t know this person or his/her intentions, and take things slow until you’ve built trust online and in person.

If an online match seems to be rushing the getting-to-know-each-other phase and jumping right into declarations of “I’ve been waiting for someone like you for my whole life” or “I can’t believe we found each other,” that should raise some alarms. Especially if you haven’t even met the person yet.

With such ardent love declarations, they could be trying to appeal to your emotional side, so you’ll throw caution to the wind and let someone untrustworthy into your life. Maybe they’re sincere. Or maybe they are more attracted to your bank account than your personal qualities. Only time will tell, so give yourself plenty of space and time to figure out the truth.

5. They Keep Putting Off Meeting in Person

The end goal of online dating is to find someone you like and get offline ASAP. When the person you’re talking to constantly has an excuse for why they can’t meet up, you should be wary. They’re either not that into you and are breadcrumbing you, or they aren’t who they say they are and are trying to scam you.

A majority of scams involve someone who says they’re in a different country, so it makes sense that it would take a while to go on a real-life date, right? However, this is their reasoning for why you should send them money. Something else to consider is why would they be looking for someone outside of their own country, and why would they do so if they can’t afford to get there in the first place?

Scam-Free Dating Sites

The media often covers online dating scams because they make for lurid and flashy headlines. However, it’s not all con artists and catfishers out there. We’ve heard plenty of online dating success stories to counter the bad seeds. In fact, about 17% of newlyweds meet each other online, and some of our own writers have found love on a dating app.

Don’t let fear of the unknown stop you from finding something great. There are plenty of dating websites you can trust to have your back, and we’ve compiled a list of the best below. These sites have all have been around for years, use strict screening processes and advanced technology to protect members, and receive positive reviews regularly.

1. Match

Match was founded in 1995, making it the first dating site ever. No one has more history and is more respected in the online dating industry than Match. The dating app has three out of five stars on Google Play, was called one of the top 100 sites by PC Magazine, and is responsible for the most romantic connections of any of its competitors.

★★★★★ 4.9/5.0

Our expert ratings are based on factors such as popularity, usability, value, and success rate of each site.


Relationships: Friends, Dates, and Relationships

Match System: Browse by zip, age, appearance, more

Our Experts Say: “Match has facilitated the most dates and relationships of any dating site, and its large audience and high success rate make it our top review...” Full Review »

Browse Free: View Photos Now

In terms of safety, Match offers customer service via chat Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST as well as 24/7 support via email. The Match team is committed to online dating safety and recently partnered with Garbo to add a background check feature to the dating site and app.

Match users can also report suspicious behavior and use incognito settings to keep personal and financial information private.

2. Zoosk

Zoosk came onto the online dating market in 2007 when mobile apps were just starting to take off. Zoosk was, at one point, the number one grossing dating app and a top 25 grossing app in the App Store. We’d credit a majority of this popularity to the Behavioral Matchmaking™ system, which remembers your on-site behavior (who you search for, like, message, etc.) and uses that information to deliver highly compatible matches.

Zoosk 4.7/5.0

Our expert ratings are based on factors such as popularity, usability, value, and success rate of each site.


Relationships: Fun Dates, Serious Relationships

Match System: Search and get match recommendations

Our Experts Say: “Zoosk is integrated with social media sites, like Facebook and Google+, so it's very popular with singles on the go...” Full Review »

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If you experience any problems on the site or app, the Zoosk team can be reached at (888) 939-6675 and Zoosk also provides numerous do’s and don’ts for identifying scammers and getting their profiles removed.

3. EliteSingles

Not only is EliteSingles one of the most unique dating websites out there, with a focus on education, but the site also has some of the most reliable security features. These include the Trust and Safety page, which answers frequently asked questions such has “How secure are my personal details?” and SSL-encryption technology (you’ll notice the lock symbol on the left side of the URL).

★★★★★ 4.7/5.0

Our expert ratings are based on factors such as popularity, usability, value, and success rate of each site.


Relationships: Serious Relationships

Match System: Search, Receive Partner Suggestions

Our Experts Say: “EliteSingles is a leading dating site just for busy, single professionals. More than 80% of members have earned a college degree, and most are looking for a serious commitment...” Full Review »

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The site also has personnel dedicated to monitoring for fraudsters, reviewing every profile and photo before it’s uploaded, and writing blog posts to keep members informed.

4. eharmony

As a relationship-driven site, eharmony is another pioneer in this space, having been co-created in 2000 by Dr. Neil Clark Warren, a clinical psychologist, marriage counselor, relationship author, Christian theologian, and seminary professor. The site is for serious-minded daters and uses an in-depth questionnaire to identify true compatibility.

eharmony 4.8/5.0

Our expert ratings are based on factors such as popularity, usability, value, and success rate of each site.


Relationships: Casual Dates, Deep Relationships

Match System: Personality test suggests matches

Our Experts Say: “Accounting for 2% of U.S. marriages, eharmony's compatibility-based system and commitment-minded user base are ideal for those seeking a serious relationship...” Full Review »

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The main thing people seem to like about eharmony is the site does all the searching and matching, which means potential scammers are less likely to be on the prowl since they have less control.

5. OurTime

Safety is usually a top concern for online daters, especially mature singles, and that’s where OurTime comes in. This site is exclusively for men and women aged 50 and older, so it knows how to cater to this audience and their needs.

★★★★★ 4.6/5.0

Our expert ratings are based on factors such as popularity, usability, value, and success rate of each site.


Relationships: Dates and Relationships

Match System: Search by profiles by zip and more

Our Experts Say: “OurTime is well-known in the over-50 dating crowd, particularly because it has a ton of helpful search features and an easy layout...” Full Review »

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In addition to having a user-friendly layout, search functionality, and matching process, OurTime has an extensive tips section similar to Match’s.

6. Christian Mingle

Launched in 1998, Christian Mingle is somewhat of an oldie in terms of dating websites, but it’s still definitely a goodie. And the safety components just keep coming. The team inspects all of the site’s profiles and photos and addresses dozens of concerns on the FAQs page, including how to choose a fun but secure username and not to worry about asking a match a lot of questions.

ChristianMingle 4.5/5.0

Our expert ratings are based on factors such as popularity, usability, value, and success rate of each site.


Relationships: Dates and Serious Relationships

Match System: Search by gender, age, education, more

Our Experts Say: “ChristianMingle is among the largest dating sites in the industry that only caters to single Christian men and women, and the site has some of the best search filters and safety features...” Full Review »

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As long as you’re communicating on Christian Mingle, you’re protected by their features, so we’d recommend messaging and chatting with your matches on the site until you’ve gone on a few dates and are comfortable with them.

7. BlackPeopleMeet

BlackPeopleMeet is part of the People Media family, just like Match and OurTime, so the site has pretty much all of the same security tools. On the Dating Tips page, you’ll find advice from the team as well as links to other expert resources such as the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Hotline and the National Violence Hotline.

BlackPeopleMeet 4.1/5.0

Our expert ratings are based on factors such as popularity, usability, value, and success rate of each site.


Relationships: Deep Relationships or Just Casual Dates

Match System: Search by location, age, more

Our Experts Say: “ is the one of the largest and most popular dating sites for black and biracial singles, and the site is used by more than 5 million people a month...” Full Review »

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BlackPeopleMeet also sends a verification email to every new user, so if a scammer is using a fake account, they’re more likely to get caught.

8. SilverSingles

Another well-known senior dating site, SilverSingles puts users first and understands the individual desires of mature daters. Take a look at the comprehensive Help section, which will walk you through things like hiding your profile if you want to and blocking someone who’s being abusive to you or other members.

SilverSingles 4.6/5.0

Our expert ratings are based on factors such as popularity, usability, value, and success rate of each site.


Relationships: Friendship, Casual Dates, Serious Relationships

Match System: Search by age, location, height, education, ethnicity, and religion

Our Experts Say: “SilverSingles caters to relationship-minded singles over 50 with simple, safe, and effective online dating tools...” Full Review »

Browse Free: View Photos Now

The customer care team can be reached Monday through Friday (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST), or you can fill out a contact form. Using the latter method, you should expect to get a response within 48 hours.

9. Adult Friend Finder

Sometimes people think hookup sites can’t be safe, but that’s not always the case. Adult Friend Finder helps frisky singles have a fun and equally safe experience. The adult dating site uses state-of-the-art encryption and an anonymous profile setup to provide some level of privacy and security to online daters.

★★★★ 4.2/5.0

Our expert ratings are based on factors such as popularity, usability, value, and success rate of each site.


Relationships: Hookups Only

Match System: Search by location, interest, more

Our Experts Say: “Make no mistake: this site isn't about making friends, it's about finding hookups and casual encounters. No adult site has a larger or more active user base of those seeking discreet fun...”

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Adult Friend Finder has been in the online dating business since the 1990s, and its team of moderators have gotten really good at spotting fake profiles over the years. The hookup website flags suspicious activity automatically, and anyone caught breaking the AFF community guidelines will be removed from the database.

Take Your Safety Into Your Own Hands!

Just because there are people in the world with bad intentions, that doesn’t mean we should live in fear. Online dating is still a great way to meet people, and if you utilize the tips above, you can protect yourself from con artists and not fall victim to one of the 5,800 annual romance scams. Stay safe!

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