- Netflix’s hit documentary “The Tinder Swindler” raised awareness of dating app scams, also known as romance scams.
- According to the FTC, victims of romance scams have lost a total of $1.3 billion over the past 5 years.
- Clearing your personal information on the Internet and searching for a date can help protect singles against fraud, says a cybersecurity expert.
Over the past five years, singles on dating apps have said they lost about $1.3 billion to romance scams, making it the costliest type of fraud in the United States, according to the FTC. .
February’s documentary “The Tinder Swindler” explored the issue and reignited the conversation about scammers lurking in plain sight on dating apps. Shimon Hayut was banned from dating platforms, like Tinder and Hinge, after posing as a wealthy diamond dealer and taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from women he met on Tinder after convincing them that he was in danger and needed the funds.
In recent months, other dating app scammers have also made headlines.
In January, a Denver man told The Sun he lost $1.6 million after a Hinge game told him to invest it in a retirement account. In February, a 24-year-old woman said she gave Hinge Match her $300,000 in savings to invest in a cryptocurrency exchange site that turned out to be fake, the New reported. York Times. That same month, a couple was sent to jail for their involvement in a scheme to defraud several elderly people out of $660,000.
There are ways to preemptively protect yourself against identity theft and financial fraud, Mark Kapczynski, senior vice president of strategic partnerships at cybersecurity service OneRep, told Insider.
He suggested removing personal information from Google searches, keeping your cell phone number private for as long as possible, and researching your date before meeting in person.
Clear your personal data from internet searches
Even if a match with a dating app only contains your first name, general location and photo, they can still find you with a quick internet search, Kapczynski said.
“There are literally 150 or 200 sites that will contain your personal information, and these sites allow anyone you might meet online to look up your information, find your phone, find where you live, and decide how they want to. engaging with you instead of controlling the situation,” Kapczynski told Insider.
He said someone could use this information to stalk or harass you, in person or online.
That’s why he suggested cleaning up details like your address, mobile number, and email address from the internet.
To do this, open a private browsing window, like Google’s incognito mode, to avoid getting results based on your personal searches, Kapczynski said. Type your name and see what pops up. From there, you can manually opt out of data sharing on those websites, which usually have a button to do so at the bottom of their homepages, he said.
To streamline the process, he suggested using a service that does it for you, like OneRep where he works.
Ideally, you’d do this before joining dating apps, Kapczynski said, but if you’re already on those platforms, it can still help.
Google your date and do a reverse image search
Once you swipe, Kapczynski suggested filtering matches with your own Google search to verify their identity.
To do this, take one of their profile pictures and place it in a Google search. The search engine will perform a reverse image search, Kapczynski said, and find other details about your match.
While doing this, check that their location, employer and other details match their profile, Kapczynski said. He added that only matching with people who have verified profiles, indicated by a blue tick on most dating apps, can be an added security measure.
Finally, he said to watch out for certain behaviors, like intense persistence, or asking for money or meeting in a distant location.