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How to spot fake dating profile pictures

How to spot fake dating profile pictures

Have you got a feeling that the person who you are talking to on a dating site is not the one depicted in their profile photo? Do you wonder if it is possible to find out the true identity of the person you’re communicating with? Would you like to know more about how to recognize a fake profile? In this article we will try to help you answer all the difficult questions you have in mind.

What are fake dating profiles?

When we talk about fake dating profiles, we’re thinking of 2 cases:

  1. Profiles which impersonate other people (the person from the profile photo is not the one who is using the account)
  2. Profiles which use photos of people that don’t exist (their pictures are created using AI).

The common denominator of these 2 cases is the users who don’t use their own data to create their profiles (we can call them scammers). Usually, the most problematic data is photos. Lying about your name, age or marital status is also outrageous but you probably wouldn’t call such a profile fake if the photos uploaded to the profile match the reality.

Fake profiles are a scourge not only on dating sites but also on social media (like Facebook, Instagram, etc.), Google, or online forums. Scammers use them for different purposes: from just having fun lying to someone and creating a new persona for themselves, through writing false opinions about products/services to blackmailing victims and extorting money.

How to spot fake profiles on dating sites

Identifying a fake dating profile is possible, but not as easy as it appears. It is also important to be very careful when judging someone based only on their profile images.

We have prepared a few tips on how to recognize fake profiles or fake photos on dating sites.

  1. First, go through the photo gallery of the person you are talking to. If there are not so many images there, it could be a sign that the ones uploaded to the profile don’t belong to that person. This applies especially to photos of non-existing people, created using AI: without specialized tools, it is impossible to create 2 very similar pictures that look like the same person. Additionally, pictures created using AI are square, so that photo format may give you a hint as to false ones
  2. While talking to that person, ask them to send you a selfie - if they are not willing to present themselves, you can be alerted that it might not be the person from the profile photo.
  3. Offer meeting in person. You get to know each other on a dating site, but if they are a scammer, they won’t be willing to see you on an actual date. That would automatically expose their true identity.
  4. Analyze if there is any conflict in what this person says (e.g. once they write they were on a holiday at some time, then that they were helping someone or had an argument with their boss in that time). Any doubts arising from this type of misinformation should make you dig a little deeper into that person’s data.
  5. Check online forums or groups where users share information about fake and scam profiles. Maybe someone had been looking for that person before you and has already done all the work in exposing their true identity.
  6. Try to verify if this person has accounts on other dating services or platforms. If you find the same photo connected to different data, you will have a good reason to start asking about this person’s identity. However, please remember that every case is different and the best policy to verify the situation is to have it out with this person.

Fake dating profile - example

To present how hard it can be to recognize fake dating profiles, we have manufactured a few fake profiles of people of different ages and sex. The people from the photos used in these fake profiles don’t exist. The pictures have been created using artificial intelligence as a patchwork of facial elements taken from different people. You have to admit that they look very realistic. The names and descriptions have been made up by us.

Using AI anyone can create very realistic fake dating profiles

Our intention was to act in a way as to harm no one, so we haven’t published any scans of fake profiles that actually appear on real dating sites.

Fake dating profiles and catfishing

The problem of fake dating profiles is closely related to another issue known from the Internet: catfishing. A catfish is a person who uses someone else’s data (like the name, a photo, some personal information) to create a fake profile and benefit from it in some way, e.g. to extort data, money, or to humiliate someone. Anyone can become a victim of a catfish (often enough these frauds use someone’s data as an act of revenge on that person), so it’s important to monitor your online presence. If you would like to deepen your knowledge about this topic, read the “What is catfishing” article on our blog.

You can check if you have fallen victim to a catfish using the facial recognition search engine, PimEyes. Upload a picture of yourself to the search bar below. In the results, you will receive a list of websites that have published photos with a similar face to yours. We check publicly available websites (not including social media).

Upload a photo and find out where this face appears online

Try face search

Summary

Spotting a fake dating profile is possible, but might be hard because you might not be able to see the signs of a scam. This process may be especially difficult if you are involved in a relationship with a potential scammer and you are not ready to notice the misinformation created by that person.

If you are worried that the person who you are talking to might not be the one from the profile photo, you can run some tests to confirm or negate their identity:

  1. Go through the photos uploaded to that person’s profile. A small number of pictures with a face or silhouette might alert you that this person is hiding their true identity.
  2. Ask them to send you a selfie. That is a quick test to verify if the person you are talking to is the one from the photo.
  3. Offer a face-to-face meeting. A scammer won’t be willing to meet in person, even after having talked with you for a long time.
  4. Analyze what this person says. Spot any conflicts in facts (e.g. if they describe different events happening at the same time).
  5. Check if someone hasn’t exposed this person on some online forum or group where users share information about scam profiles.
  6. Try to find other accounts of that person, e.g. on different dating services or platforms.

These instructions apply to both types of fake dating profiles: fabricated using a photo of a real person but not of the owner of the account, or a picture of a non-existing person, created using AI.