Beth Cook is a dating coach and wing-woman who throws private dating events for San Francisco’s most awesome and unattached. She also writes and draws about her own dating experiences and would love to hear from you. Want advice? Have advice? Send her an email.

Remember when we used to be scared of online dating? Chat rooms were cool, but they involved a certain amount of risk, gambling on whether that potential great guy was actually a  foot fetishist or sex offender.

We’ve forgotten about this because, nowadays, everyone’s online from self-described ‘young millionaire’ (trust fund kid) who just wants to meet ‘a normal girl’ (another trustee) to the bitter woman with a laundry list of wants: ‘tall, handsome, rich, loves wiping baby butts.

These folks are relatively harmless. I’m here to warn you about something far more nefarious: online dating fakes.

I’m not talking about the fake profiles that dating site developers plant or the Svetlanas of the world whose pages are run by Belarusian dating pimps. I’m talking about the people who troll around, instant messaging and emailing you with no intention of ever meeting you in person.

What do these people look/sound like? Here are five sketchy things online dating fakes do:

1. Has no photo or profile. You might as well assume this is a fat guy in sweatpants with one goal: masturbating to as many profile pics as he can before he gets kicked off for being inactive—little do they know how active he’s been!

2. Has a limited profile. One photo and a two-line description about not believing in lengthy profiles really indicates that this person is lazy and probably married. Either way, he or she has no intention of ever taking you out.

3. Just writes “Hi” or “Hello there” in a message. How eloquent. This person didn’t even click through to your profile. Ignore.

4. Asks “What are you wearing?” or “What’s your favorite body part?” as an ice-breaker—or uses words like “sexy,” “hot,” “tempting”, “fetish,” and “naked.” This dude is bored and horny. Any answer you give him will be additional masturbatory material.

5. Asks tons of questions except for “When can we meet?” This guy (or gal) is lonely. She probably has a workaholic spouse and has gone online to try and start and emotional affair. The best way to cut through this crap is to stop the chitchat and ask her out. If she makes excuses for being busy, etc., head for the hills. She isn’t busy enough to write you a novel everyday, right?

6. Posts slutty photos. When guys take their shirts off and girls have their boobies all up in your face, they’re not looking for relationships. They are looking for attention. Poor things. Any correspondence they have with you will temporarily inflate their ego. Then they’ll move on the next.

If you are genuinely looking for dates — not flirty pen pals or instant message sex — stay away from these time-suckers.

Photo by Steven Connors