Fake profiles are still an important matter for so-called dating sites and their users. Next Monday, the ARD will broadcast a program broadcasting advice with the title “Vorsicht Verbraucherfalle” [“Beware! Consumer trap”] in which different providers of single sites are investigated for fake profiles. At the end of October this year, we published our first Fake and Transparency Report in which we provided insights into how fake profiles are dealt with on LOVOO.

It was and is our intention is to pool all important questions relating to this matter and make them available to users. What is a fake profile? Who is behind them? How does LOVOO manage to identify fake profiles and keep them off the platform?

These questions cannot be answered just once, instead they must always be adapted to the current conditions and methods of fakers. An automated anti-spam system that we are currently developing identifies the majority of fake profiles on LOVOO by means of special usage patterns. Nevertheless, it is particularly important to let this system be re-learned over and over again. This is where people come into play, and not just the individual employees in our Support Team but also the consumers and LOVOO users themselves that report potential fake profiles to us. With their notices, our Support Team can identify what new methods the creators of fake profiles are using to reach consumers beyond the system.

We have teamed up with our Support Team and compiled a selection of the messages with the most valuable references to fake profiles.

The case of bullying

It is not always professional fraudsters behind fake profiles. Sometimes they conceal the bullying activities of young people who want to embarrass fellow students in the network. In this case, images and names of others are used without permission. We occasionally receive corresponding notices from our users.

The “financial emergency”

Sometimes we receive notices that profiles are created with the aim of obtaining money transfers. A known pattern is referred to which is known from the analogue world. Profiles are created that at first pretend to make normal contact and potentially build up a personal relationship via chat. As soon as there is a relationship of trust, is personal emergency is fakes that can be allegedly be solved with a payment. These funds then go directly into the hands of the fraudsters. An indication for good conduct in this situation is clearly not effecting money transfers on the basis of getting to know someone on chat. This still applies if you have met face-to-face.

The e-mail trap

Users have pointed out to us that fake profiles are created in which particularly attractive photos are used and after first contact has been made, further communication via e-mail is suggested. Once the e-mail address is exchanged, personal data has already been exchanged and the scam begins. Our pointer is not to leave secure communication directly in LOVOO chat during the initial period. The exchange of e-mail addresses or telephone numbers should only take place once a relationship of trust has been established following a face-to-face meeting.

Fake third-party profiles

Every now and again, profiles are found that contain hidden advertising messages or unwanted requests. In this case, profiles are created with great care by special agencies that are then sold to third parties. Third parties then use these profiles to place advertising messages and lure users to special sites.

Users have also pointed out to us that, in some cases, contact is made based on the fact that professional services are hidden behind profiles. These include escort services and types of prostitution. Profiles are therefore used for commercial purposes under false pretenses. Notices sent to our Support Team are key to removing these profiles from the platform.

The bot

Bots are fake profiles that are not managed by people, but rather manage interaction with users completely automatically. Their answers are predefined depending on the question of the user. Professional networks are behind the bots, which create bots for brands and services. Their goal is to create artificial visual contacts out of advertising material, to distribute relevant messages to target groups or to deduce corresponding user information.

Community support and anti-spam system: a strong defense

We owe it to the combination of man and machine, supported by algorithms and the assistance of our users that most types of fakes are blocked by the anti-spam system after 2.2 hours on average. This way, LOVOO ensures that spammers only make up a very small share of our user base. More precisely, they make up just 0.3% of users active on a daily basis.