Plenty of Fish scams: How to spot and avoid online dating scammers

Plenty of Fish scams: How to spot and avoid online dating scammers

February 27, 2024 privacy 0

Plenty of Fish is one of the most popular dating sites in some countries. But even though most of its members use it to find love, other users damage its reputation. Learn more about scams on Plenty of Fish and how to avoid them. What is Plenty of Fish? Plenty of Fish is an online dating platform based in Vancouver, popular mainly with users from Canada, the United States, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Brazil, and the United Kingdom. The platform was founded by Markus Frind in 2003. Plenty of Fish is a free service but offers paid subscription plans that include additional features, such as the ability to check to see if another user has read a message. Like other online dating sites, Plenty of Fish can be prone to scams. If you’re looking for love on PoF (or plan to do so), learn the common signs of scammers and how to avoid them. Common types of Plenty of Fish scams The internet makes it easy for people to fake their identities, so it’s no surprise that online dating websites are often associated with various scams. Plenty of Fish is no different in that regard. Moreover, dating services attract people who may be lonely and desperate for affection. This, combined with naivety and inexperience in detecting red flags, results in an alarmingly high number of romance scams. If you’d like to know more, we’ve researched romance scam statistics in the UK, and the numbers are worrying. They are even worse in the United States – see our romance scam statistics in the US to learn more. What types of online dating scams can you find on Plenty of Fish? Here are the most common types: Catfishing Catfishing involves a person creating a fake dating profile to pretend to be someone else. Catfishers have many options: They can download other people’s profile pictures and use them as their own, find photos online, and even use celebrity photos for their profiles. Today, scammers can also use AI to create fake personas for their dating profiles, so as you scroll through Plenty of Fish or other dating app, you may encounter some uncanny, generated images of people that do not exist. As for personal information, scammers can simply copy it from someone else or make it up. Catfishing is a way to manipulate someone into establishing a relationship with a fake person. Scammers can be very patient and often take the time and effort to connect with their victims – only to get them to “lend” them money or do something harmful for them, for example, invest in a fake business or download malware. Financial romance fraud Dating apps such as Plenty of Fish are a hunting ground for financial scammers looking for single people trusting enough to avoid meeting in real life or talking on the phone/through a live communication app. They create an emotional bond solely through text messages, and when they feel the victim trusts them, they make up a sob story to get them to send them money. Usually, they come up with a medical emergency or financial crisis that has forced them to be stuck overseas or in an unfamiliar city. Financial scammers often claim to be in the military or work in some place that makes it challenging to meet with their victims. This is, of course, an excuse to hide the fact that their identity is fake. Financial scams are almost always combined with catfishing. It allows scammers to pose as attractive people while hiding their real faces and making it harder to track them down. Some dating profiles are even operated by entire groups of scammers. PoF and similar dating sites are also full of people who entertain themselves and others through scambaiting — the art of hunting down scammers and letting them waste their time on someone who knows what they’re trying to do. Sextortion Sextortion is a form of blackmail in which the perpetrator threatens their victim with revealing suggestive and intimate photos, videos, and messages to the public or their loved ones unless the victim complies with the perpetrator’s demands. Sexually explicit materials can be obtained “naturally” — the victim may send them voluntarily because they trust the recipient. Other times, they may result from a malware infection or the scammer breaking into their accounts. Anyone can fall victim to a sextortion scam, but it’s especially dangerous for teenagers. The problem made the news in 2022 when a 17-year-old American boy named Jordan John DeMay took his own life just hours after hackers, posing as an attractive woman on Instagram, threatened to publish his sexually explicit photos. Jordan’s case is heartbreaking, but it’s just one of many. According to a survey conducted by the FBI on sextortion schemes, more than 7,000 reports of sextortion of minors were made in 2022. Phishing Phishing is a type of fraud in which the perpetrator pretends to be someone else to make a profit. It’s similar to catfishing, but in the case of phishing, the scammer makes sure to impersonate an existing person and target their friends and acquaintances. For example, they might hack into someone’s social media accounts and message their contacts, pretending to be the real person whose data has been stolen. Phishing scams are often linked to identity theft. Identity theft can occur when your data is leaked (e.g., due to a data breach of an online service you are registered with) or stolen by hackers. Scammers use such stolen data to impersonate other people or, in the case of romance scams, pretend to be someone else to appear trustworthy and get their acquaintances to reveal their personal information or give them money. Warning signs to watch out for Is Plenty of Fish safe? If you ask us, we think that it’s similar to all other dating sites and can be both a place where you meet the love of your life and a disturbing number of scammers. We’d like the former for you, so to avoid being scammed, you should know what to look for first. Sob stories Anyone can find themselves in a crisis. However, if you’ve never met someone in person and that person tries to extort money from you because their dog is sick or they’re stuck abroad, you should immediately treat that as a red flag. Dating apps are not fund-seeking platforms, and you shouldn’t feel bad if you say no to an almost stranger asking for financial support. Avoiding face-to-face communication Scammers often come up with all sorts of creative excuses as to why they can’t call you, FaceTime you, or schedule an in-person meeting. This is because their profile is fake, and they don’t want you to notice. However, keep in mind that sometimes people are just shy or self-conscious. Follow your intuition — be compassionate, but keep your eyes open for anything that seems dishonest. Generic or visibly generated pictures Scammers search the internet for photos to use in their fake profiles and often use the most generic ones. Although it sounds unbelievable, people are fooled by profiles with professional model, stock, and even celebrity photos. Keep your eyes peeled for any suspicious behavior when chatting with someone who seems too attractive, and use a reverse image search to see if the photo originated elsewhere on the internet. The easiest way is to use Google’s reverse image search or Google Lens on your phone — it uses image recognition and can retrieve images similar to the one you’re checking. Also, remember that generative AI exists and is an excellent tool for scammers. As you scroll through profiles, look out for the typical signs of AI pictures — distorted pupils, mutated hands, clothes that fold in impossible ways, or inconsistent backgrounds. Eagerness Fraudsters may advance your relationship unnaturally to achieve their goal faster. It’s normal to talk to someone for a while before deciding on the next steps, but scammers like to establish intimate relationships quickly. They may send you intimate images (or ask for them), use pet names, and generally try to get closer to you, even if you feel it’s not the time yet. {SHORTCODES.blogRelatedArticles} Reporting scammers on Plenty of Fish Plenty of Fish has a built-in profile and photo reporting function that you can use to report a suspicious profile. The platform will never let the reported person know that it was you. To report someone on Plenty of Fish, click the three dots icon next to their username, hit “Report,” and select the available reason that seems closest to your situation. Keep in mind that even if you can easily spot that a profile is fake, someone else may not be so observant. Reporting helps the entire user base, so don’t hesitate to report scam profiles, even if you think no one would ever fall for them. Plenty of Fish scammer list If you encounter a scammer on Plenty of Fish or any other dating app, you can contact a scam-fighting company that provides anti-fraud features on dating apps and maintains lists of suspicious profiles. One example is Scamalytics. Social media accounts are also specifically designed to collect and publish photos commonly used by scammers. For example, an Instagram account named ScamHaters United publishes stolen pictures daily to warn its followers of profiles that may be using them. Protecting yourself from Plenty of Fish scams You can protect yourself from dating scams in several ways. We’ve listed them here so you can have the smoothest dating experience possible. After all, everyone deserves love, and no one deserves to be deceived. Don’t share personal information with strangers. The internet is great for meeting new people, but you should always be cautious about sharing personal information. Don’t get intimate too quickly. If you want to exchange sexually explicit photos with someone, wait until you’ve met in person and know them well. Don’t send intimate photos to random people on the internet, especially if they nag you about them. Don’t send money. No matter how sad a story your new online friends tell you, don’t fall for it and don’t send money to someone you don’t know personally. Stay in the app. It’s natural to leave a dating app when you want to continue talking to someone daily, but don’t do so too hastily. Give yourself time to get to know the person, and keep your communication within the platform so that staff can help you in case of suspicious behavior. Take care of your social media profiles. If you overshare on social media, scammers might use that information to target you. Someone can easily link your PoF profile to your social media using image search or your name, and learn more about you. Sometimes, sharing less is more. Learn how to keep your social media accounts private to be safer online. Delete your PoF profile after you’re done with it. Whether you’ve found your special someone or are no longer interested in the app, it’s best to delete your profile. Some scammers scan dating sites for good profiles to impersonate, so it’s best to remain visible for as short a time as necessary. On top of that, it’s always a good idea to delete unused profiles in case of breaches. See our guide on how to delete your Plenty of Fish account. Report suspicious profiles. Help other Plenty of Fish users and report suspicious profiles to reduce the likelihood of scammers catching a victim.

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