Online dating, apps included, has become a hot bed for impersonations and illicit profit. Typically dating is most profitable for the dating services as far as the online variation is concerned, or for the various businesses couples frequent. When there is money to be made, however, people will find every avenue they can to maximize their yields.
Such is the case with the dating app Tinder. Since its launch two years ago, the makers have boasted over 1 billion matches among its users. Those numbers lose a bit of their prestige in light of several stories of users being little more than people pretending to be someone else entirely.
While the phenomenon of people using the internet to impersonate other people isn’t new, what makes the Tinder situation so tender are the ways in which the impersonators run their scams. To try to seem as real as possible, photos that have not been made private on other social networks are taken in large amounts. A fake profile is created from these stolen pictures to make the assumed alias seem real.
NBC news reported on the story of Kristin Shotwell who was a victim of the one such Tinder impersonation. Shotwell, who did not use the Tinder app herself, was made aware by a friend that he had seen her profile. The pictures all belonged to Shotwell but the profile was under another name entirely.
Experts categorize the dating scams under two categories. In the first category, the fake profile makes contact with a potential target. From there the person is led to a location to download malicious software or to adult webcam sites. Those scams are usually easier to identify because they rely on automatic scripts and messages. Simple questions often times are all that are needed to pull back the curtain on this type of scam.
The second category is more time consuming but also much more lucrative. The fake profile is used to make contact similar to the first type. What separates the two is the need for a real person to interact with the target. The user of the fake profile attempts to win over the target so that they can elicit money.
While Tinder has not seen any particularly headline-worthy scams as of yet, users still have reason to be careful. In 2012, dating scams were responsible for $55 million in loses to Americans alone.
By Rashad McDowell