Are There Scammers Hiding on Hinge?
Last year, Nicole Hutchinson thought she had hit the jackpot in both love and money. After matching on the dating app Hinge with a man who encouraged her to invest in cryptocurrencies, Nicole and her father built a balance of $1.2 million. But when they tried to withdraw their earnings, they were hit with a $380,000 “tax bill.”
Eventually, Nicole realized that the whole thing was a scam. But unfortunately, all of the money that she and her father had “invested” was lost [*].
Online dating has simplified the process of finding love. However, if you’re using dating apps like Hinge, some of your matches could be scammers in disguise. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [*]:
Nearly 70,000 Americans reported being scammed on dating apps in 2022, losing an average of $4,400.
If you’re an active user on Hinge, Bumble, Tinder, Plenty of Fish, or other dating sites, it’s important to protect yourself against romance scams.
In this guide, we’ll look at the most common Hinge scams and how to spot a potential Hinge scammer before you become the victim of heartbreak and fraud.
What Are Hinge Scams? How Do They Work?
Hinge scams comprise a range of frauds and schemes that originate on the dating platform. Scammers pose as romantic interests and then convince their matches to send them money, invest in fraudulent investments (usually cryptocurrencies), or give up sensitive information such as account passwords or financial data.
Romance scams like these are nothing new. But as more people use dating apps to find love, scammers have ramped up their efforts.
Over the last five years, dating app users have lost $1.3 billion to romance scams [*].
Here’s how a typical Hinge scam takes place:
- Fraudsters create fake profiles using stolen photos. Scammers take photos from social media, magazines, and even stock photography sites to make a fake dating profile. Most use attractive photos to “catfish” their matches into believing that they’re speaking with a real person.
- Next, they “love bomb” their victims to build an emotional connection quickly. Fraudsters send overly flirtatious messages, talk about marriage, or say “I love you” right away. The goal is to trick you into thinking you have a genuine connection with the scammer.
- Then, they ask you to text on a different platform. Once you’ve exchanged a few messages over Hinge, the scammer asks for your phone number and requests to continue the conversation on a different app, like WhatsApp. This way, if their account is reported or deleted from Hinge, they can continue the scam with you.
- Once you’re “hooked,” they come up with an emergency or opportunity. The scammer creates an urgent situation that requires your help, or offers you an opportunity that seems too good to pass up. For example, your match may claim to need money for a medical procedure or travel expenses to visit you. Or, they may pressure you to invest in a “guaranteed” investment (using untraceable methods, such as cryptocurrency).
- When you figure out the ruse, your match disappears. Depending on the scam, you could be swindled out of cash or left vulnerable to identity theft — especially if you gave the scammer sensitive information, like your Social Security number (SSN) or credit card number.
Unlike many other types of scams, Hinge scammers aren’t just targeting older people. Data shows that users between the ages of 18 and 29 were six times as likely to become victims of dating app scams than people over 30 [*].
How To Identify a Hinge Scammer: 12 Warning Signs
Dating apps and social media sites are flooded with fake profiles created by scammers and bots — with half of all dating app users saying they’ve encountered fraudsters [*].
However, even daters with cybersecurity awareness can often struggle to discern if they’ve matched with a fake account.
Here are some of the ways to spot a scammer on a dating site:
- Their accounts are “too perfect.” Fraudsters use photos of models or attractive individuals to get your interest. If someone’s profile photos seem like they’re from a magazine, or if you feel like a prospective match is “out of your league,” regard these as red flags. To verify, reverse-image search any profile photos to see if they appear on someone else’s social media profile or in online publications.
- You can’t find much information about them online. Real people typically have some online footprint, whether it’s a Facebook account, LinkedIn profile, or even a Whitepages listing. If you search the person’s name and can’t find any information about them, there’s a good chance it’s a fake profile.
- They have purple “Just joined” badges on their profiles. If you see a Hinge profile with a “Just joined” badge, it could be a real person who just joined the site. However, it could also be a fraudster who creates lots of fake profiles with the intention of deceiving prospective matches.
- Their profiles use awkward phrases or nonsensical language. If the person didn’t take the time to carefully craft a compelling profile, or something seems off about their profile and the content they’ve used, it could be a scammer.
- They refuse to video chat, or always cancel at the last minute. Scammers try to hide their real identities at all costs. If you ask them to send selfies or get on a video call, they refuse or cancel at the last moment to avoid getting caught.
- They quickly say they love you. A common tactic of dating app scams is to “bomb” you with affection right off the bat. Scammers may tell you they love you within a few weeks of messaging — or bring up conversations about engagement, marriage, or moving in together.
- They want you to shift the conversation from Hinge to WhatsApp (or other messaging apps). Once scammers hook you, they want to move off the platform quickly. They might ask you to leave the dating app and start chatting on third-party messaging apps, like WhatsApp or Telegram.
- They want you to invest in cryptocurrencies. One-third of all dating app scams involve cryptocurrencies [*]. If a new romantic connection says they can help you make a lot of money by investing in crypto, it’s almost definitely a scam.
- They claim to live somewhere nearby but can’t answer basic questions about the area. If you connect with a match who claims to live in your area, you might ask them questions about local restaurants or activities for a first date. If they can’t seem to answer, it’s possible that you’re dealing with a scammer living in another state or in another country altogether.
- They ask for gifts or money to help with personal or health issues. If someone on a dating site asks you for money or gift cards, it’s almost certainly a scam. No legitimate match will ever ask you to wire them money, send a gift card, or provide financial support in any way.
- They claim to be overseas or live far away from you. Some fake Hinge users may tell you that they’re deployed overseas in the military, or that they live far away. Because you probably won’t try to meet them in person, this is an easy way for fraudsters to develop an online relationship and trick you into falling for their scams.
- They ask you to prove your commitment to them. If a romantic connection asks you to “prove” your commitment by providing sensitive information, nude photos, or money, it’s likely a scam. Never disclose your personal details online — like your SSN — even if you believe the person is legitimate.
The 5 Latest Hinge Scams To Watch Out For
- Cryptocurrency investment scams
- Claims of being in the military or working overseas
- Requests for money to help with personal or medical issues
- Blackmail by using sensitive photos and videos
- Links to fake websites, paid services, or malicious downloads
Fraudsters are always looking for new ways to earn your trust and fool you into giving them money or sensitive information. If you’re unsure if your match is genuine, look for the warning signs of one or more of these common Hinge online dating scams:
1. Cryptocurrency investment scams
One of the most common Hinge scams involves tricking victims into investing in cryptocurrency (also known as the “pig-butchering scam”).
In this scheme, fraudsters build a connection on Hinge and then offer to help teach you about trading cryptocurrencies — with the promise of making huge amounts of money. They might even send you a screenshot of their personal account so that you can see their earnings.
To rope you in, your match will send a link to a “special” cryptocurrency exchange, encouraging you to click on the link and start trading. But once you’ve been consistently investing and making money, you’ll be told that you have to pay hefty fees and taxes — rendering your investment worthless.
How to identify and avoid crypto investment scams on Hinge:
- Never trust anyone who claims to have a “guaranteed” investment. All investments come with some level of risk — if someone claims otherwise, they’re trying to scam you.
- Don’t trust small initial earnings. Fraudsters often let you withdraw small amounts of “earnings” early on to get you to invest more.
- Research all investment platforms before investing your money. If an opportunity offered to you is a scam, you can probably find out through a quick Google search.
2. Claims of being in the military or working overseas
You might match with someone who claims to be serving in the military or working overseas. Not only can this lie make the scammer seem more credible — it also means that they won’t be able to meet you in person.
For example, a military romance scammer might claim to be having banking trouble and ask you to wire them money until they figure things out. Or, the scammer might ask for money or gift cards in order to continue supporting their family back home.
No matter the reason, they’ll always promise to pay you back. But if you fall for the scam, you’ll probably never see that money again.
How to spot a military romance or overseas scam:
- They’re in the military and don’t have money for food or housing. If someone claims to be a deployed service member, know that the military covers all basic expenses — so no military personnel should need money for living costs.
- A “senior” service member reaches out to you. Scammers may create multiple personas to seem more legitimate. If someone posing as a commanding officer reaches out to you, it’s a scam.
- Your match deletes their account if you push back on requests for money. If you ask too many questions about the situation and why they need the money, they might stop talking to you or delete their account altogether.
3. Requests for money to help with personal or medical issues
You might find yourself messaging with a Hinge or Tinder match who claims to be going through a hard time — for example, dealing with personal or family issues, or medical problems. However, this is a common tactic used to make you feel bad for them and be more willing to send them money.
After your initial support, the scammer might convince you to continue giving them money — whether it’s a gift card for a new laptop, or a recurring wire transfer to help them pay rent.
What to do when a Hinge connection asks you for money:
- Never share your credit card numbers or bank information. There’s no reason to send this information to someone you’ve only met on Hinge.
- Don’t send money to someone you don’t know. Trust your gut. If anyone you’re talking to is constantly dealing with issues that require money, the person is likely lying and using you for money.
💡 Related: What Can Scammers Do With Your Bank Account Number? →
4. Blackmail by using sensitive photos and videos
One of the biggest dangers of online dating is the rise of “sextortion.” With this scam, a match asks you to send them sensitive pictures or videos — with your face in the shot — in exchange for theirs. But when you send the photos, the person threatens to leak them unless you give them money.
If you willingly send nude photos or videos to a Hinge match, and they demand a ransom, there’s not much you can do. So it’s important to avoid this scam at all costs.
How to avoid sextortion scams:
- Never send sensitive photos or videos to someone over a dating app. Remember that what you share online, stays online. Do not send naked photos or videos to anyone over a dating app or online platform.
- Report the user if they’re making you uncomfortable. If the person is pressuring you to send sensitive photos or videos, and they’re making you uncomfortable, report the person’s profile to the app.
5. Links to fake websites, paid services, or malicious downloads
If you start chatting with a Hinge or OkCupid match who sends you a link to click on (or sends you a link via email), think twice before opening it.
Even if you think you recognize the website — like Facebook or Instagram — the link could actually be directing you to a site on which fraudsters can steal your login information (or the site may contain malware or ransomware).
How to avoid malware or phishing scams:
- Don’t click on unfamiliar links. Never open a link or website right away, especially if it’s from someone you don’t know.
- Know what a phishing link or website looks like. Check for telltale signs of a phishing website — like typos, grammatical errors, or the word “unsecure” in the browser’s search box. Secure sites will use “HTTPS” and are verified with a lock symbol in the search box.
- Protect yourself with Safe Browsing tools. Aura’s all-in-one digital security solution can warn you if you’re visiting a fake website.
Did You Get Scammed on Hinge? Here’s What To Do
If you think you’re communicating with a scammer on Hinge, don’t panic. Exchanging a few messages with a fraudster is harmless. But if you’ve disclosed any personal information, financial information, or sent them money, you could be at risk of identity theft or other types of fraud.
Here are some helpful resources to use if you’ve become a victim of a Hinge scam:
How to report a scammer or bot account on Hinge:
Click on the person’s profile, then select the three dots at the top right — and hit “Report.” After reporting a member, neither of you will see each other’s profiles again, and the scammer won’t be able to view your messages [*].
What to do if you gave a Hinge scammer personal information:
Stop messaging the person and report their profile to Hinge. Then, change your passwords for all of your important accounts, set up two-factor authentication (2FA), and use a secure password manager to store your new login credentials.
What to do if you sent money to a Hinge scammer through your bank:
Contact your bank and report a fraudulent charge. The bank might be able to cancel the transaction if you sent the money recently. Make sure to set up fraud notifications in case the scammer tries to use your accounts; and consider freezing your credit for more protection.
What to do if you sent money to a Hinge scammer through a payment app:
If you send money to a scammer through an app like PayPal, Venmo, or Zelle, open the app and cancel the transfer, if possible. You should also reach out to customer service and let them know that the transaction was fraudulent.
What to do if you sent gift cards to a Hinge scammer:
Contact the gift card company (like Amazon) and let them know about the fraudulent charge. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get money back when it’s spent on a gift card, but the company might be able to reverse the transaction.
What to do if you invested money through a fake cryptocurrency exchange:
It can be tough to get your money back if you invested through a fake crypto exchange. In this case, you should file a police report and submit a complaint to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Make sure to closely monitor your financial accounts for signs of fraud.
💡 Related: How To Identify a Fake Website →
How To Protect Yourself Against Hinge Scammers
Romantic scams are on the rise, and fraudsters are using dating platforms like Hinge and Bumble to target vulnerable victims. However, there are plenty of ways to use dating apps safely and protect your personal information online:
- Always engage in conversations slowly with new matches.
- Ask questions about the person’s life and job.
- Verify photos and social media profiles.
- Never send money to people you don’t know.
- Educate yourself on the latest dating app scams.
- Trust your gut when chatting with people online.
For added security, consider signing up for Aura’s all-in-one identity protection solution.
With Aura, you get award-winning identity theft and credit monitoring, AI-powered digital security tools, 24/7 U.S.-based White Glove Fraud Resolution support, and a $1 million identity theft insurance policy for every adult on your Aura plan.