Date plan: falling prey to catfishers and swindlers

Netflix’s latest documentary The Tinder Swindler has got Bengalureans talking of their online dating experiences, including falling prey to catfishers and swindlers
Image used for representational purpose only. ( File Photo)
Image used for representational purpose only. ( File Photo)

BENGALURU: Emma (name changed upon request) was interacting with a match she met online. And just when things appeared to be going great, Emma got a call asking for a money transfer because the man was “stuck” with the airport security after purchasing something “really expensive” for her.

In a state of panic, she got down to “help”, only to realise that she was being scammed, manipulated and swindled by this man she was beginning to trust.

These stories aren’t new. While Emma might have been lucky enough not to fall in the trap, many others aren’t that fortunate — just like the women who speak out in Netflix’s documentary The Tinder Swindler.

Matchmaker and relationship coach Radhika Mohta finds some people to be hesitant to date now owing to bad experiences of being cheated, especially financially. She says, “These kinds of things happen because they are either too nice to the other person or too new to the world of online dating. They tend to become gullible and often fall prey to such predators to take advantage of them.”

Another reason, she points out, is something called ‘dating fatigue’. “With everything going online now, especially because of the pandemic, a person would have already spoken to a good number of people. There’s fatigue of not finding anyone. Hence, as soon as a person slightly clicks with another, they rush into things and fall prey for some unfortunate circumstances,” she explains.

She shares an instance of a woman who was cheated by someone she met on a dating app. “The woman, in her 30s who seemed to be getting along well with this person she met online, later found out that he had moved out of the country. She realised that he was already married and had moved to another country to be with his wife,” says Mohta, adding that none of his social media accounts indicated his marriage to another person.

While popular dating apps like Tinder have fraud-fighting features like blocking the contact, verification, or reporting tools, the online space is not always the safest space out there. Abrar Basith, the owner of a fin-tech enterprise and organiser of mixers for singles in the city, says that thorough screening in online setups is not as easy as doing it in person.

“We’ve hosted about nine mixers so far, where singles can meet other singles and hopefully, have a meaningful relationship. We don’t allow any repeats to attend the event,” he explains, saying that this is a good way to get rid of the dating fatigue.

Radhika Bhat, an independent counselling psychologist, says, “Though not a widespread case, I hear enough stories of my clients being cheated via an online platform. People tend to forget when they meet someone interesting and get wrapped up in the idea of a partner based on the profile seen. It’s a general challenge of online dating because you don’t get to see their everyday elements, don’t have enough avenues to understand what they actually do and analyse their overall behaviour.”

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The New Indian Express