A note from Brenda Guardado, head of customer experience
Finding a good date used to be at the top of my “things I dread” list, right after public speaking and queuing at the bank. So, when apps like Coffee Meets Bagel came onto the scene, I was beyond relieved. I didn’t have to frequent loud bars, or try to recreate that rom-com scene where the woman bumps into a hunk at a supermarket and the 99-cent-oranges display goes flying.
But while coming across a good date got easier, so did coming across a less savory type: scammers.
Now as the head of customer experience at Coffee Meets Bagel, I’ve heard the happily-ever-after stories and the I-fell-for-a-scam stories. And while CMB does have technology in place to prevent scammers from joining in the first place, we can’t catch all of them by ourselves (yet).
So before you can star in your own dating app success story, check out my tips on how to stay safe.
Quick Online Dating Safety Tips
Buckle up! Safety, first. Before we hop into the five signs your match might be a scammer, check out these quick tips.
- Never send money, gift cards, or account info to matches — especially if you haven’t met them in person.
- Keep your exact workplace and address a secret until you’ve met in person and have built trust over time. (Some experts advise also keeping your last name private until after your first date.)
- Tell your friends or family about when & where you’re meeting a match for the first time. Provide your own transportation, and always meet in a safe, public place, such as a coffee shop.
And, most importantly, if you ever feel uncomfortable or harassed when chatting with a match, stop talking to them and report them on the app. Then, block them from other messaging services if applicable. If you’re already on a date, leave immediately. Dating should never feel scary.
Signs Your Match Might Be a Scammer
Now that we’ve taken care of the crucial safety tips, you’re all set! Well, almost. I want you to spend time on matches who matter on CMB, not scammers. Here’s how to spot if your match is a scammer before you get involved.
1. They Go From 0-100
Oftentimes, scammers use artful tactics to try and sweep you off your feet. They might shower you with compliments or use flowery, romantic language right off the bat. They might give you a wholesome Disney-eqsue monologue about how they’re “just looking for love,” and “U the one 4 me, babe.” But I know you’re smarter than that, so you’ll see your match moving too fast as a red flag.
Another red flag: They’ll want to take things off the app and start texting, calling, or using other messaging apps (such as Kik, WhatsApp, or WeChat) ASAP. To cut to the chase, they may even include this contact info in their bio.
2. Their Stories Pull on Your Heartstrings
Gone are the days when all scammers were Nigerian princes. Nowadays, they’re architects, oil-rig engineers, geologists, make-up artists, nurses, and more. But one of the most common careers scammers claim to have is that of a soldier, or any career related to the military. And oftentimes they are oh-so-conveniently stationed far overseas where they can’t meet you in person.
But their real job title? A sly scammer. They may even claim to be religious (a tactic used for inspiring trust), or tell you a sob story: they’re a recent widow and their partner has passed in a tragic accident. Or, perhaps they have a sick child or parent they care for. While these unfortunate circumstances may be true for a small portion of singles involved in online dating, one of the telltale signs you’ve matched with a scammer doesn’t come until later — when they ask for your money.
3. They’re Just Too Good to Be True
If your match has profile photos that belong in a magazine catalogue, you’ve either met a model, or a scammer. And while both exist in real life (models aren’t Bigfoot, after all), it would be very unlikely for a real person not to have any casual, non-professional photos in their profile pic lineup.
In short, if your match has too-good-to-be-true photos, your match may indeed be too good to be true. But just because your match is in sweatpants in their pic (which, to be clear, is not a good dating photo best practice) doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.
Take note of other profile/photo inconsistencies. For example, if their profile says they’re 32, but they look only 22 in their picture, that’s a red flag. Likewise, if their profile claims they have a high level of education, but their grammar is disjointed, something might be up.
4. Meeting in Person Isn’t an Option
We know that the most meaningful connections happen face-to-face, so on Coffee Meets Bagel, we encourage members to meet in person. So if your match isn’t keen on meeting in real life, you should raise an eyebrow.
One of the most common excuses scammers use to avoid meeting in person is claiming that they work abroad. And if they won’t even agree to chat on the phone, you should hear alarm bells.
One way you can combat catfishing — someone pretending to be someone they aren’t online — is by fact-checking. Try running a Google reverse image search to check if they have multiple profiles under different names or with different info. Some scammers may also steal photos from influencers, low-profile celebrities, or stock sources.
5. They Ask for Money, Gift Cards, or Account Info
Lastly, and most importantly, if your match asks you for money, gift cards, or your account information, stop all communication immediately. It is extremely likely this person is a scammer.
But, it isn’t always clear right away. Many scammers will play the long-game by trying to build trust with you over time. Then, suddenly, there’s an “emergency,” and they need money quickly. Here’s a few types of fake emergencies they may claim to have:
- They were robbed and need money
- They have to book a last-minute business trip
- They need a loan
- They or their family member has a medical emergency
Sometimes, scammers may also ask for gift cards, such as an iTunes gift card. But, you should never trust a match who claims they need anything from you but your time and words, even if they promise to pay you back.
Another way a scammer might try to steal from you is less direct: by gaining access to your accounts. While some may directly ask you for your account info, routing numbers, social security number, or driver’s license info, others may be more sneaky.
If you match asks you strangely specific personal questions about old addresses, your pets’ names, or schools you’ve attended, be cautious. They could be trying to gain access to your accounts by resetting your passwords via security question answers.
How to Report a Match on CMB
If you think you’ve come across or matched with a scammer, or if your match has violated our terms of service, please report them. By reporting a scammer, you’re preventing them from scamming other lovely bagels on our app in the future.
To report a bagel in Suggested, simply tap on the flag icon in their profile. To report a bagel in Discover, submit a request.
Ready to meet someone special? Download Coffee Meets Bagel on iOS or Android.