Most Tinder users are proud millennials who assume they’re too tech-savvy to fall for a Tinder scam. This is true to a degree. However, you can’t underestimate just how manipulative some users can be. And considering how popular Tinder is and how many users there are, it's no doubt that some scams will pop up.
Keep in mind that even the most tech-savvy user can still fall for scams. When users use sweet talk and a little flirtation to get what they want, who knows what information they can get out of you. So in this guide, we'll show you some of the top signs you're dealing with a scammer as well as what you should do to keep online dating a safe experience.
Keep reading to find out all the Tinder scams we've uncovered over the years. There are always a few unsavory characters on even the dating apps we've seen guys have the best results using but Tinder tends to have a LOT more than most.
Scammers on Tinder
Similar to the way Google dominated the internet 20 years ago, Tinder has been dominating the online dating industry for more than 10 years in a row.
With more than 7.8 million users in America (1 million monthly downloads) and 67 million downloads a year, the world’s #1 dating app has revolutionized the industry to the degree that the word “Tinder” has become synonymous with “online dating.”
Tinder has been downloaded almost twice as much as its main competitors combined (Bumble and Badoo) and average more than 1.6 billion swipes on any given day.
Unfortunately, as much as it looks good to those who came looking for online romance, the app has also attracted tons of scammers from all over the world who feed on other users’ naivete and immense desire for affection.
Recent studies show that the total losses caused by online romance scams quadrupled from $75 to $304 million between 2016 and 2020 with a shocking 50% increase last year alone.
Experts attribute this spike to the pandemic which many scammers used as an excuse to justify why they can meet their victims in person. According to a recent survey, most scammers used sickness by Covid or undergoing a PCR test as excuses to hide their identity and cancel on their preys when they asked them out.
The average individual loss from those scams averaged at $2.5k/person with the majority of them aging between 40 and 69 y/o. Older victims (+70 y/o), however, paid the most to scammers with an average individual loss of $9.5k. In 2013, a mother, and her daughter, from Colorado managed to scam 384 guys of close to $1 million.
The majority of those scammers will often use photos from the internet to hide their identities. However, some of them may go one step further and impersonate someone else’s life to trick their victims. This may include setting up fake social media accounts and mail addresses so they can look as believable as possible.
They will use urgency to stray their victims from making rational decisions by claiming they need the money for specific health issues and charity donations, or to pay for phone cards or airplane tickets to facilitate a quick meetup with the victim.
Other forms of scamming include luring someone to invest in a business opportunity, joining some fake scheme, visiting adult websites or downloading apps that contain malware.
The results of those scams aren’t just financial. According to some studies, those who fall prey to romance scams often suffer from a serious loop of anger, sadness, depression, or self-degradation that may require professional help. So, you must be careful while using Tinder or any other app out there. The consequences can be pretty bad if you trust the wrong person.
Popular Tinder Scams (How They Work and How to Avoid Them)
Scammers are smart – at least the majority – and their tricks always change. Still, they all tap on the same basic needs and emotions, which makes their efforts predictable to those who are wise enough to think logically in times of chaos.
Below are the six most popular Tinder scams that you may face while searching for online romance. Stay away from them at all costs.
Tinder phone number scam
“I’d rather they took my Social Security, than my phone number” - Security expert Avivah Litan vice president at research firm Gartner Inc.
Probably, this is the scariest scam on this list, because everyone, not only a Tinder user, can be easily fooled by this. That's because all it takes to become a victim of this scam is to share your phone number with the wrong person. Yes, those 10-12 digits that you give away to everyone and anyone you know.
So, how does this scam – also called The SIM Swap Fraud – work on Tinder?
You talk to a Tinder hottie. She seems so interested that she agrees to go out with you, so you trade phone numbers.
As genuinely interested as she seems to be, the girl will gather as many details as possible about you, research your social media accounts or even buy solicited data from the dark web before calling your phone provider (or some of her associates). The scammer may then use all the data in hand to convince the mobile network operator to swap your current sim card to another one of her own.
Once it’s done, she’ll have control over all your accounts including email, social media, and bank accounts.
How to avoid this scam: Don't trade numbers until you trust your Tinder match. If you want to contact each other outside of Tinder, use other communication apps like WhatsApp or Facebook messenger. Speaking of social media, avoid posting any sensitive information on your social media such as you address, your plate number, or even your work ID.
Tinder WhatsApp scams
The two most common WhatsApp scams are; the survey scam and the Facebook/Instagram scam.
1. The Survey Scam
You receive a survey that seems to come from WhatsApp, asking you to rate your service with WhatsApp. Once you respond, the operator/scammer will ask you to forward the survey to your contact list in exchange for a monetary prize. Once you do this, they’ll then ask you to pay a small dividend upfront so they can mail you the money.
How to avoid this scam: Avoid all surveys on WhatsApp unless you know it's directly from a company you trust. And if you do want to answer surveys, keep in mind that they shouldn't be asking you for money for you to receive an even bigger amount of money.
2. The Facebook/Instagram Scam
Most girls, when asked for their Instagram, will share their handle because they’ll assume you’ll copy/paste it on the Gram before following them.
But that’s not what scammers do.
Instead of giving you their IG handle, a Tinder scammer will send you a fake Instagram/Facebook link containing malware that will hack your phone and/or social media passwords and hand it to them.
Some may even use your thirst for romance to send you to a private Facebook group/page where you can chat with hot foreign girls. Similarly, the links are fake and may swipe you off your login credentials.
How to avoid this scam: Ask for their social media handle, and don't directly click on any links strangers send you online.
Tinder email scams
This is a basic trick that scammers do all the time, not just with Tinder, but other websites, especially trading apps and banks.
How does it work?
You’ll receive a fake email asking you to fill out a form or certain information about your Tinder profile. The email you’ll get will look exactly like the ones you normally get from Tinder; same logo, font size, etc, so you won’t doubt it when you click on the link they present you.
But this often contains malware that will either hack your email or device.
So, how can you recognize a fake Tinder email?
Check for the email source before clicking on any links. Scroll up, right under the sender’s name (Tinder), then click on the drop-down menu. If it’s from anything that doesn’t end with @tinder.com, then don’t open it and report the issue to Tinder.
How to avoid this scam: If the email doesn't end with @tinder.com, don't click on any links and delete the email ASAP.
Other Tinder Scams to Watch Out For
Here are three more Tinder scams to keep a lookout for…
1. The Crypto/Trading Scam
This one can hurt deeply both emotionally and financially. Your match will present herself as someone worth your time and effort. She’ll look authentic and genuinely interested in talking to you. She’ll play along when you ask for her phone number and may spend hours on the phone with you talking about normal stuff.
She’ll say yes to going out with you, but she’ll tell you to wait until she’s back to town, complete her Covid isolation or finish her exams. You’ll stay on the phone for a while until you start to catch feelings for her. Then one day, while discussing money with her, she’ll tell you how much she, or one of her friends, has made from crypto or stocks, and that you may give it a try one day.
She’ll draw you a future where you get to enjoy both her and the money you’ll make if you give trading a try, then one day she’ll ask you to wire her money – as in our friend’s case – or send you a link to a brand-new trading app whose entry fees are below the market averages.
And the app really looks authentic you won’t doubt it for a second.
In fact, if those scammers are good, it will have everything a legit app has including an Apple Store signature and a professional, Binance-like interface.
So, you’ll click on the app link, sign up with your email, password, and bank account, send in some money and start trading (and winning too).
Until the day comes when you try to withdraw the money and realize that you can’t. Your funds were frozen for some reason and their fake support team will ask you to send more money to unfreeze it. So you’ll call your new virtual girlfriend who’ll give you the coup de grace. It will probably be your last call with her because she’ll vanish with money and information.
Forgot to tell you, the app might contain some malware that hacks your phone too.
How to avoid this scam: Cryptocurrency trading may seem tempting right now. But this is exactly why scammers use it to lure in victims. Before clicking any links from crypto Tinder hotties, do some research and see if she's recommending a legit trading platform. On top of that, think to yourself: why would this random person suddenly want to recruit you into crypto trading if you're on a dating app?
2. Tinder verification scam
Some women will say they don’t trust guys on Tinder, and that you must be verified if you want to go out with them. If you agree, she’ll send you a fake verification link with malware that will hack your phone and passwords.
Keep in mind that Tinder doesn’t use agents or third parties to verify your account. You can simply check their help section before verifying your photo, location, or age.
How to avoid this scam: As with most of the other Tinder scams, all it takes to get your info or money is the click of a link. So never EVER click on random links from strangers on Tinder, no matter how hot she may be or how in love you think you are.
3. Total catfishing
Catfishing is a term used when someone fakes their looks either partially or completely. A total catfish often means that the person you’re talking to is using someone else’s photos or identity to trick you into liking them. As far as actual Tinder scams go, this is probably one of the worst in terms of emotional and financial damage.
At best, it's just someone looking for fake romance online to make themselves feel better. At worst, it's someone trying to manipulate your emotions so you'll send them money. This is usually in the form of pitiful sob stories (e.g. I'm sick, my pet died, I have no money for rent, etc.) or as a promise to meet up (e.g. I need gas money so I can meet up with you, Venmo me $100 so I can afford the train ticket to your city, etc.).
How to avoid this scam: Ensure that you're talking to a real person by adding them on social media once you get to know them. Have a look at their interactions with other people to see if this person you're talking to is an actual person they know.
Next, do a few video calls and get to know each other over video. Catfish are notoriously evasive about video calls. So if she constantly refuses to do a short video call (2-3 minutes), then you know she's probably not real.
4. Partial catfishing
The second type of catfishing (partial catfishing), however, is what we experience every day with Tinder girls. According to studies, women often lie about their age and weight on dating apps while men lie about their height and income.
Some women will use their old photos or pick specific angles to get more swipes. Of course, you won’t find out unless you face time her – any you can still be tricked – or by meeting her in person. And when you do meet her in person, you may feel the urge to leave immediately if she looks nothing like her Tinder photos.
My buddy met this girl on Tinder, curvy, blonde with blue eyes. He teased her about her Tinder poses so much that she voluntarily sent him a short video with her wet hair – just took a shower – and her really beautiful blue eyes (and she had a nice voice too).
The next day they went out, and it turns out she had severely crooked teeth, more than 30 more pounds than shown in the video, and a different eye color, which she revealed were her new lenses. Anyway, as crazy as we know him, he played it cool, talked to her for a good hour, ordered the most expensive item on the menu + the dessert, then excused himself to go to the bathroom, before texting her 20 minutes later with this:
”You pay, FILTER. “
You shouldn’t do this to any girl. For someone who’s been catfished many times, I’d end the date after 20 to 30 minutes and call it quits. This is a win-win for both of you, and a lesson to judge a girl by her worst photo before asking her out.
How to avoid this scam: Sadly, there's really no way to avoid expert catfish unless you meet up with them. So your best bet is to keep in mind that there's always the possibility that your date will look nothing like her photos. Then you can have an exit plan where your friend can call you up mid-date with a fake emergency so that you have an excuse to end the date. Chances are catfish know what's up and they'll leave you alone after that.