Short answer: Sadly yes, many dating sites themselves can be a scam! It just so happens that some are way worse than others.
Let me expand on this and give you some solid well-researched examples.
DO NOT trust the independent dating review sites either because most of them are in bed with these criminals as profiting affiliates.
Check out Consumer Reports (Are Paid Dating Sites Better Than Free Ones?) if you’re looking for unbiased advice.
Dating sites used to be a more reliable way for well-meaning singles to meet someone special. Not any more folks. It’s bad enough you have to watch out for other members trying to scam you.
Now, you can’t even trust the company running the dating site. They may even be worse because they intentionally feed off of your loneliness and users mistakenly trust them more. I never expected the dating sites themselves to be in on the con, but quickly found out I was wrong the hard way.
How to Spot Dating Sites Who Scam You?
After some thorough online research, I found the following common traits that should set off red flags in your head. Run, don’t look back, and put your money away! You do not want to waste your time or money being duped by dating sites that have these scam features.
No Membership Fee, Only Credits
If the site you’re considering only allows you to purchase credits to participate, you’re getting ripped off. Not only are these credits way more expensive than a membership anywhere else, but they also won’t last you very long. The cheapest you can buy credits in most cases will be 20 cents per credit. Guess what you can do with a single credit? That’s right boys or girls, nothing. And since they know you probably don’t pay attention to every action you take, they’re counting on you to “top-up” without knowing about it. Dating site reviewers fail to mention how fast you can go broke patronizing a site that uses this credit model.
Spending Dating Site Credits Are an Even Bigger Scam
As if buying credits wasn’t bad enough, spending them is way worse.
I went ahead and priced each action from this dating site to give you an idea of just how utterly expensive things can get…and very fast. Here’s the thing too…they obfuscate and hide the pricing model very well. You need Sherlock Holmes sleuthing abilities to find this on their sites.
- Live chat (2 credits per minute with one particular member);
- That’s 40 cents per minute for each member. Let’s say you’re feeling like a chatty Cathy. You chat up 10 members at the same time. You’ll spend all of your 750 credits in just over 30 minutes. A phone call to Siberia would be cheaper than this!
- Chat stickers (5 credits; you can send stickers during the live chat session);
- Want to send a smile emoji? $1, per favor
- Chat photos (10 credits to send a photo);
- Want to share a photo? $2
- Chat videos (50 credits; you can open a video in the live chat but please be aware that you’ll be charged immediately after clicking the link);
- Lover sends you a video? $10 to watch it, please
- Photo Comments (2 credits per comment under the member’s profile photo);
- 40 cents to leave a photo comment
- Profile videos (25 credits; you can find it directly on the member’s profile; you’ll be charged immediately after clicking on it);
- $5 to view a profile video…
- Uploading your own profile video (100 credits);
- $20 to post a profile video
- Sending letters (10 credits for the first letter, 30 credits for each consecutive letter to one particular member;);
- $2 to send a cyber letter. This isn’t USPS folks!
- Opening letters (the first letter is free to open; 10 credits will be deducted for opening all consequent letters from one particular member);
- Could you imagine having to pay $2 every time the mailman brings you another letter? That’s some expensive junk mail!
- Opening photos in the letters (10 credits per photo);
- $2 to open a single photo? Are they Playboy models or something?
- Opening video attachments in letters (50 credits per video; please be aware that you’ll be charged immediately after clicking on it);
- $10 if you open a video…better not be what I think it is…
- Make a request for a real meeting (625 credits; the fee doesn’t include your travel expenses and translation services);
- $125 to go grab a cup of coffee??? This better be one hot date!
- Make a request for a member’s personal contact details (free of charge; it requires you to spend 3000 credits on the communication with a member);
- Free? Really? Just kidding! Only after you spend $600 communicating with ONE member.
The moral of the story is that if you come across a dating site that wants to sell you credits, don’t do it. You’ll be homeless before you can spend enough money to actually meet a real human being that’s genuine. And I don’t care how gorgeous you are, I’m not spending $600 just so I can get your phone number.
Risks Notice: We Pay People to Scam You
Have you ever been on a dating site and get a ridiculous amount of attention? You’re no Brad Pitt or Richard Gere, so what gives?
Your worst fears are about to be realized. They were never interested in you…none of them. Someone is being incentivized to provide you with this experience. The more you contact their referrals, the more money they make.
Seniors Too Trusting About Scams?
It’s how they hook you and keep you spending more money. Don’t be duped by these con artists.
If you see warning messages like these, drop everything and abandon ship! It’s a dating site scam!
The humorous thing about the “Risks Notice” link on their page (above image) was that it was broken. You click on it and goes to an empty 404 page. They apparently don’t want you to be informed of the risks since they’re the ones perpetuating it.
Validated but Impersonated Dating Site Members Scam
A brief explanation: All the provider needs to do is get a valid ID from someone and then impersonate them going forward. You’ll be none the wiser and the dating site can claim that they validate their members. They don’t expect you to catch on to the conflict of interest either. You have to hover over the Validated Member button to see the message in the image below.
When I searched their listings, I wasn’t surprised when I found that ALL of the profiles were marked as “validated”.
I tested my theory that the profiles were bogus by leaving questions (and a “READ IF YOU WANT ME TO RESPOND!”) in my profile to see if the members would answer or even mention it. I even uploaded my main profile image with text that said “Email Me Please!!!” with my actual email address on it.
After receiving over 100 “letters” and thousands of chat messages to date…
Guess how many responses either read the profile or emailed me? ZERO
This definitely got my spider senses tingling and looking to expose these phonies.
Dating Sites Missing Gender and Gay Registration
Normally when you sign up for a dating site, they ask you for your gender and what your dating interests (sex orientation) are.
Not this site. They just assume you are a man looking for a woman. There was no way to register online as a female (or any other gender for that matter) or gay.
When I contacted support about this, they gave me a contact email address for their “Head of Agencies Relations” that was from another domain. That sounded very shady to me.
I’m still waiting to hear back from this individual. Seems they have enough “validated” profiles already.
Aggressive Dating Site “Validated” Members
I like to think I’m somewhat handsome and well put together, but not enough to merit anything as aggressive as members from this dating site. For instance, if the ladies on the dating site you patron do any of the following, you know it’s a hoax. Every single one of these listed happened to me on this dating site.
Be very wary of anyone that does any of the following:
- Sends you nude pics of themselves in their very first message to you
- Speaks very provocatively as if they’ve never seen a man before
- Mentions marriage in any form before even knowing what you want
- Asks or tempts you to spend your credits on them (e.g. ask you to send them stickers several times, asks you for photos, sends you videos, etc.)
- Has nothing but professional-looking photographs on their profile (nobody looks that good all the time)
- Talks about being rich ($500 billion was mentioned a lot), what they can do for you, and how they don’t need your money
- Wants to make plans to meet and possibly already has a date in mind
- Already planning a vacation or business trip in your “area” when they have no idea where you even live
- Presents you with a sob story about how they lost someone (family, husband, boyfriend)
- Offers themselves and others as potential sex partners
If you get attention from 100s of profiles and you’re not famous or a supermodel, ponder that for a minute. Are women begging for your attention where you live? I’m guessing that they probably aren’t, so that should tell you something. These types of dating sites are looking for thirsty men who are looking to have their egos stroked.
Don’t fall for it!
Is Your Dating Site Legit? Or Is it a Scam?
This should be the first question to ask before even considering to use a dating site. I made the odious mistake of not doing this first. Had I done so, I would have quickly realized that this dating site was highly questionable at best. It would have saved me the disappointment and time wasted fighting to get my money back.
Here are some tools and methods that will help you do your due diligence.
If you come across a dating site that interests you, please check the following before you proceed.
Dating Site and Domain Metrics
Trustworthy dating websites will have a positive history and track record that can be researched easily.
Better Business Bureau Rating / Complaints
- Check to see how the dating site is rated
- Review what complaints have been filed
Research Domain/Website Ownership, Authority, and History
- Use Domain Tools Whois to see how old the domain is
- The dating site I used was less than a year old – huge red flag
- Multiple SEO tools (e.g. Moz and Ahrefs) can tell you more about the domain’s authority
- This particular dating site had a Moz Domain Authority of 3 (very low) and Ahrefs Domain Rating of 25 (also low) – a huge red flag
- Both tools showed very few trustworthy links from other websites (most were from dating review sites) – another red flag
- Verify site/domain ownership
- The site claimed to be run by a corporation by a different name in Nevada
- The address provided on their website was a shared office space in Las Vegas – a red flag
- BBB listed them with a Florida address – another red flag
- Nevada Business Entity Search listed it as a Foreign Corporation with another filing in Delaware – a huge red flag
- The site claimed to be run by a corporation by a different name in Nevada
- Check the dating site using scamadviser.com
- Pay attention to the negative highlights for a true picture of the website
- Read the customer reviews of the dating site
Research Dating Site Customer Reviews
Reading customer reviews for a dating site can be very revealing. I found some even more disturbing information that was overlooked before. One member claims that support accidentally mentioned that their site used bots to respond to chats. I guess that explains why a lot of the messages repeat in style and message.
Another customer review mentioned the expense of credits as we noticed above. This poor gentleman even noticed some duplication in the ladies’ profiles. He discusses the futility in trying to make a real connection and doubts the authenticity of the lady members.
Less popular dating sites that haven’t established a good reputation will rarely have any positive reviews.
SiteJabber ranks sites by only considering customer reviews. If the dating site you want to use isn’t on their site or is missing reviews, be very cautious.
The dating site that scammed me hasn’t been reviewed on SiteJabber yet.
Even the more popular sites have numerous negative reviews about scammer profiles. Pay special attention to those, so you know what precautions to take.
Before you decide to use a dating site, do yourself a favor and listen to your inner voice. If something seems to be good to be true, it normally is.
Ask your friends and other daters for their experience with dating sites. If they’ve never heard of the site, that should tell you something.
Finally, bookmark this page and use the tools we mention above. Please do your research! You don’t want to fall victim to a dating site scam.
Feel free to Contact Us if you have questions, comments, or need help. I love exposing these scumbags!