The dating world has been shifted with the introductions and growth of social networking and dating applications such as Tinder and Bumble in significant ways. Their entry into the dating world has brought a wide variety of positives and negatives when compared to the more traditional dating method. Online dating is often viewed negatively universally, with people often having a level of scepticism towards the activity.

Tinder is a dating application that is location based, used by younger daters with intentions that vary from serious relationships to hookups. It has more than 50 million users in over 190 countries. It is an application that is free to download and requires users to link their Facebook account when creating a profile, which adds a level of difficulty towards people creating a fake account.

Although dating applications have allowed individuals to have access to a wider range of people to potentially date, it has also come with the possibility of harassment or romance scams, which continues to have a negative impact on dating.

The Tinder Swindler”, the new Netflix documentary, tells the story of a notorious conman who allegedly used the Tinder dating app to live a life of luxury while manipulating and defrauding women across Europe. “One little swipe can change your life forever”. Those are words spoken by a woman who has lots of experience using the Tinder dating app.

In this documentary, we meet three women who were conned by the playboy Simon Leviev, who presented himself online as heir to an Israeli diamond fortune. Simon used this entire fake persona to woo women on Tinder, after winning their trust and impressing them, he tricked them into lending him hundreds of thousands of dollars. That money was then used to impress his next victim.

This is one of the thousand horror stories where online daters have fallen victims of catfishing. Dating online is a risk, so is there anything one can do to avoid getting catfished? Here are some tips to avoid becoming a victim of a romance scam.

(i) Take it Slow

Like any other encounter with a new person, it’s best to take things slow. Scammers are only there for one reason; they want your money as fast as possible. As a result, they will flatter you with compliments, send you gifts and even say the “L” word early in the relationship. So take your time to ask a lot of questions and never give out personal information to someone online that could put your finances or identity at risk. Don’t get emotionally invested before meeting them.

(ii) Watch for Excuses

It’s been a few months, and you haven’t met the person? You need to proceed with caution. If the person you have been talking to online refuses to meet in person, it may be an indication that they are a scammer. They will provide excuses such as constantly travelling for work or moving to throw off suspicion.

(iii) Paid Dating Site

Use paid dating sites because a lot of times you have to provide information which is traceable when registering on these sites. Catfishes tend to shy away from these and opt to use social media to reach out.

(iv) Be Wary of Disaster

Scammers often present a story of a personal hardship or struggle to get the victim to send money after gaining their trust. Nearly as regularly, the victims fall for the bait out of a mixture of generosity and what they believed was a genuine connection with their online partner. This is a mistake that you should never make.

(v) Keep it Public

Scammers will start their communication with their victims on dating apps or sites and then try to steer the conversation elsewhere, such as private mail or text. Avoid the trap by reiterating your preference to communicate on the app or site and never give out financial information over the email or phone.

Additional tips to prevent you from becoming a victim of romance scams:

(i) Be wary of people who say they are rich or famous. For a narcissist, it’s a pretty fun identity to portray and a good hook for the victims because people want to be desired by a famous person. In such a case, it’s good to seek input from your family and friends, since they can see things more objectively than you.

(ii) Research the person’s photo using online searches like Google Image to see if the photo has been used elsewhere.

(iii) Ask a lot of questions and note any inconsistencies in current or past information they provided.

(iv) Look out for poor grammar, unusual expressions, spelling and flowery language that don’t coincide with the person they’re pretending to be.

(v) Never provide personal information, your identification card, passport or credit card numbers.

Millions of people turn to online dating apps or social networking sites to meet someone. But instead of finding romance, many find a scammer trying to trick them into sending money. If you suspect an online relationship is a scam, stop contact immediately.



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