Thanks to shows like MTV’s “Catfish,” people think they’re experts at identifying a fake dating profile. But the new Netflix documentary, “The Tinder Swindler,” shows that getting scammed on a dating site is more common than we think. It’s about a group of women trying to track down a dating app user who conned them out of millions of dollars after pretending to be a wealthy billionaire on Tinder, then manipulating them to send him money by claiming he was in danger.
But the subject of “The Tinder Swindler,” a guy who’s real name is Shimon Heyada Hayut, is just one scammer in the online dating world that’s swimming with catfish. And the thing is, anyone can make a dating app profile without having to provide much verification to prove they are who they say they are.
To avoid falling for one of them, experts warn to beware of these red flags:
- Focusing on one aspect of themselves too much - Relationship and lifestyle content creator Hannah Stella explains, “Even if somebody is real, highlighting just one thing on their profile is something to ask questions about.” In “The Tinder Swindler,” his entire profile was photos of him on private jets and yachts and bragging about wealth and status.
- Claiming to be the son of a billionaire - That’s a warning sign in itself if someone’s doing it on a dating app.
- Not linking to other social media accounts - If someone shares their other social media accounts on their profile, it helps you know they’re legit.
- Not interacting with people on social media - When you do check their socials, don’t believe everything you see. Stella says you should look past what they post, “because that’s always a highlight reel,” and check for “authentic engagement,” like comments from people who seem like they’re real life friends.
- Trust your gut - Relationship expert Catherine Emond says it’s the most fool-proof way to suss out a fake dating profile. She says especially with women, our instincts are usually right, so if something seems off, there’s a good chance it is.
- And the ultimate catfish test? Ask the person to FaceTime or meet up in person. If they refuse or make up an elaborate excuse? Well, it’s tough to miss that giant red flag!