Your Ultimate Guide to Online Dating Scams in 2024

Dating Scams

Embarking on the quest for love is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, only in this case, the haystack is full of fake profiles and ill-intentioned scammers. Swipe fatigue, anyone? Beyond the regular catfish parade, there's a whole circus of romance scammers ready to steal your heart and all your money. Hold on tight as we unveil the top 10 online dating scams riddling the pools and inboxes of your favorite apps and platforms.

1. Phony Dating Sites

There are an estimated 8,000 dating websites out there aimed at helping people connect, however, not all of these websites are legitimate or well-intentioned — and danger can lurk even on the most tried-and-true platforms. Phony dating sites and fake apps make shiny, tempting promises of easy hookups, modelesque matches, your “perfect match”, and other guarantees that are just too good to be true.

Sometimes these sites are fed through sidebar advertisements, promoted by influencers, or sent directly to you through someone you’re connected with on an app like Hinge or Bumble. Scammers are hoping you’ll follow the link, sign up, provide personal details, and become their next victim.

The warning signs:

Pro-tip: Take your run-of-the-mill, legitimate dating apps and social media platforms off that pedestal — danger still lurks in plain sight on Tinder,, Facebook, Instagram, and Bumble. Catfishing, financial exploitation, harassment, blackmail, and other online dating scams are abundantly common on these popular platforms, too. Watch out for warning signs and trust your gut if something seems fishy.

2. Fake Profiles & Malware Bots

In the age of ever-evolving technology, catfishes have leveled up. While the classic catfish — a person who uses someone else’s photos to lure unsuspecting love-seekers into a relationship — still thrives in abundance on all platforms, catfish malware bots have entered the chat. Similarly, malware bots use someone else’s photos, or AI-generated photos, to engage with people looking for love.

After matching, bots and catfishes may ask you for personal information or request you continue the conversation on a phony website. Some catfishes can even play a long-con game, really investing in getting to know you only to pull the rug from under you after establishing what seemed to be a genuine connection.

The warning signs:

Pro-tip: Eliminate the stress of fakes and phonies by opting for a dating platform designed to foster real connections. CarpeDM matchmakers are professionally trained to vet community members and find compatible matches who will be equally glad to set up a video call and meet in real life. Join today to find your forever!

3. Blackmail & Sextortion

Sextortion is when a supposed love interest threatens to leak sexual images, details, or videos of you online unless you meet their demands. These demands typically include paying a hefty ransom or sending additional sexual content.

Sextortion and other forms of blackmail are becoming an increasingly common online danger. In 2022 alone, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received 39,413 reports of sextortion. This online dating scam can wreak havoc on your life and digital footprint if you’re not careful to recognize early red flags.

The warning signs:

4. Cryptocurrency Investment Fraud

Modern dating scams are leveling up and entering the cryptocurrency space. In this scheme, the scammer aims to build a seemingly genuine connection with you only to pressure you into investing in cryptocurrency. They typically offer a “friendly” approach, offering to guide you through the process and lead you to financial success. 

The end goal is to get you to open a legitimate cryptocurrency account and re-navigate you to a link that will transfer the funds directly to the scammer. Initially, it will appear that you are receiving incredible returns on your investment, but in the event that you try to withdraw any money, your account would be threatened with a tax bill or the site would shut down altogether.

The warning signs: 

5. Military & Overseas Romance Scam

Fallen head over heels for someone in service, an oil rig worker, or a doctor stationed in a foreign land who needs some financial assistance? Odds are likely that your online lover is being dishonest and solely interested in squeezing your wallet dry. Watch out!

These internet dating scammers may tell you that they’re in a legal battle and unable to pay fees, need help paying for basic necessities before their first paycheck clears, or they have a once-in-a-lifetime investment opportunity and want you to join in. Ultimately they’re looking to use you, and likely other victims, as a cash cow.

The warning signs:

6. Money Requests

One of the most common online dating scams pervading all platforms is the classic, old-fashioned money request scheme. Simply characterized by a potential love interest requesting you send money to help them out, this romance scam claimed a jaw-dropping $1.3 billion in losses in 2022.

The warning signs:

7. Food-Digging Restaurants

Picture this, you match with someone promising, you set up a date at a local restaurant, you put on your finest outfit, and you get stood up. You wait a few more minutes, but no one comes — you look amazing and came ready to eat, so you decide to order some food and take your rejection with grace. Once you’re home, you scroll on TikTok before bed only to stumble upon another person who had the same experience at the same restaurant a week ago.

In this new dating app scam referred to as “food-digging,” restaurants create fake profiles with the goal of luring singles to their eatery, “standing them up,” and getting them to purchase a meal post-rejection.

The warning signs:

8. Money Mule Recruitment

Money mule recruiting schemes are among the most insidious online dating scams as they can make money-laundering criminals out of unwitting love-seekers. Recruitment typically starts with an email, social media DM, or dating app message. The scam is executed in three strategic steps:

  1. The scammer will request money or the transfer of funds from your digital pocket to theirs.
  2. Once received, the scammer acts as an intermediary by forwarding the money to the illicit source, which is typically stationed overseas.
  3. The process repeats itself, sometimes adding in additional transfers to layer and obscure the source and destination of funds.

The consequences of money mule recruitment can be severe — outside of mere (and potentially life-altering) money loss, participants could face legal action, compromised personal details, and long-term damage to your credit score.

The warning signs: 

9. Inheritance Scams

If your latest match has recently come into an unexpected inheritance wealth and wants to shower you with everything you’ve ever dreamed of, you’ve caught a scammer in your net. This dating scam can get your hopes of extravagant vacations, luxury cars, and a life together with a loving partner in a billowy whirl — and that’s the point.

Inheritance scammers prey on singles by luring them in with fake profiles, detailing the excitement of their inheritance, then sending over seemingly legal documents that designate you as the sole beneficiary to their fortune. The scammer will then decree that you will need to pay a fee and provide personal details to receive the money. Shortly after, they could drain your accounts.

The warning signs:

10. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Requests Despite the advancement made in cybersecurity, romance scammers have prevailed in devising new ways to hack into your accounts while potentially stealing your heart.

The two-factor authentication scam occurs when your would-be love interest tells you their account isn’t letting them log in, and they need you to confirm their verification code on your phone number. Once provided, you have unknowingly provided them access into one of your personal accounts.

The warning signs:

Stay Vigilant, Singles

Make 2024 your year of online safety. By learning about these ten pervasive online dating scams, you can empower yourself with the knowledge and savvy needed to navigate the digital dating landscape with confidence.

Want to cut all the BS out? Try matchmaking! CarpeDM’s matchmaking platform requires all members to undergo a thorough background check before they’re able to connect with other romance-seekers. See how our matchmakers can help you step into a life with love and security by requesting a 15-minute consultation!

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