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Clues to Spot a Fake Dater Online from a Dating Counselor’s Perspective

So, this question came up twice this week with new clients …. basically, asking me about the online scam known as catfishing. This is where a person is not the person they are claiming to be; a deceptive practice generally where one creates a fictional/fake persona online. (With obviously not good intentions!).

As a dating counselor, dating coach for over 25 years----and with the astronomical growth of online dating just in the past 5 years, have I come across this? A few times. But not really in the past few years as singles have become savvier with online dating. Over the past few years as Pew Research points out---in 2020, 1 in 3 couple who got married met online.

Here’s the thing---you can spot this in less than 30 seconds, generally.


Clue #1. They commonly post a super-hot photo. And just one. (The norm for online dating is posting around 6 photos of yourself from an activity you love to a group shot with friends to a nice headshot). Yes, there are super good-looking people online---but they post multiple photos.

Ok, if this clue totally escaped you….

Clue #2. No written dating profile or a quick generic profile such as “Love the beach. My boat. My dog”. No effort put in…. or if you see misspellings, it’s either a really ignorant catfisher or a bot.

So, you are still continuing pursuit here?

Clue #3. The first message you receive from them asks for your phone number, email or is overly enthusiastic. They have basically asked you to quit messaging on a safe dating site/app.

Still communicating? C’mon, you are smart…. but here’s more:

Clue #4. They mention they are rich, famous or a millionaire.

Ok, while I have clients that fit one to three of the adjectives above, they would NEVER EVER mention this. That is the last thing they want people to know! Having several celebrities in sports, TV, writers, etc., we never describe them as a NY Times Bestselling Author or a Coach of a Pro Team. They came to me for a serious relationship, not a gold digger! (Note: A gold digger can be either male or female).

Have you blocked this person yet? Please say yes!

Clue #5. A generic message from someone who has no photos posted. Something like “You are gorgeous! I’m not on here often so send me your email and more photos?”

WHAT? This person has no photos and is asking you for more?

So, getting back to being asked about catfishing twice this week (when I am rarely ever asked) use care and common sense. Let’s say you met someone at a bar and she asked for your cell, email and for you to send more photos. You’d think she’s nuts, right? (Or he).

Ok, so don’t get me wrong---I’m a huge proponent of online dating---as an online dating counselor with over 25 years’ experience, while working with my clients on dating sites, we have only seen this a handful of times. Like anything, use common sense when dating! And, check out my 2-Minute Dating Tips or Take my Dating Quiz to know how you compare to other singles.

So, while looking online, use reputable dating sites/apps like the top 50 (there’s over 1400 dating sites/apps out there) ….

Happy Dating! Feel free to send me questions in the comment section and I’ll address them in one of my upcoming articles.

Life, Love & Laughter, Andrea

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