How to Spot a Dating-App Swindler

March 23, 2022 | Bank Iowa

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As it often does when an unnerving life trend emerges, Netflix documented a renowned romance scam in its film The Tinder Swindler. The 2-hour movie chronicles the alleged conning of at least three women, each of whom says she was fooled into believing she was the exclusive girlfriend of a billionaire businessman – and financing a variety of his bizarre dealing along the way.  

 

The accused swindler met the women on a popular dating app. Although the circumstances of this tale are outlandish, they serve as a hyperbolic warning of similar financial crimes that target dating app users specifically. The allure of these platforms is no wonder. As of 2022, there were 44 million people using dating websites in the U.S. alone.  

 

Fortunately, there are warning signs that the person behind the swipe may be after more than a love connection. Here are a few digital dating tips to keep in mind:

  • Attempt to find your connection on other sites. It’s the rare individual that does not have at least one other profile online. 
  • Never give away your financial information or personal information (e.g., birthdate, home address, Social Security number or PIN) to a stranger on a dating app (or elsewhere for that matter!). 
  • Similarly, never send money, particularly via a wire transfer. It is difficult to get wired money back even in circumstances of fraud, especially with international transfers. 
  • Do not use the same password across multiple dating apps. And never have the same, or even similar, passwords for dating and financial sites. 
  • Don’t be afraid to use an app’s reporting or blocking features. They are there to protect you and others. 
  • Pay close attention to privacy settings. For instance, some apps use geography to suggest matches. Consider whether you want perfect strangers to have the ability to pinpoint your location. 

 

It can be tempting to blame the victims of these audacious breaches of virtual trust, or to consider them more gullible or foolish than the average individual. But, as the New York Times put it, “The victims of scammers aren’t stupid. They’re human.” 

 

If you’re a human considering using a dating app or website, check out some of these additional resources:

 

https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/romance-scams

https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-you-need-know-about-romance-scams

https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2019/romance.html

https://www.rainn.org/articles/online-dating-and-dating-app-safety-tips