Tinder is making it harder for scammers to use the dating platform to defraud victims. The dating app announced that it is rolling out an added feature for its photo verification system - a selfie video. Users will be asked to prove they are who they say they are by uploading a selfie video with the front camera on the platform.
This will earn members the coveted verified blue checkmark that users cannot just buy. Not just the verification process, Tinder says it will allow photo-verified members to opt to receive messages only from other photo-verified members. This "elite" circle of verified members is known as "Photo Verified Cuties".
According to a press release, Tinder is also planning to ask already verified members to re-verify themselves using the video selfie mode soon.
Romance scams around the world have become quite common. Given that Tinder is one of the most popular dating apps, with a presence in 196 countries with millions of users, it is an attractive pond for scammers to go fishing for their victims.
Romance scams can come in various forms and ways. There's the infamous Tinder Swindler AKA Simon Leviev, born Shimon Hayut, who conned women into funding his luxury lifestyle by pretending to be the son of a billionaire and love bombing.
Then, there are the catfishing scams, among the most popular. Tinder's newest update to its photo verification system aims to weed out some of these scamsters or at least make it harder for them to misuse the platforms.
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Here are some forms of romance scams you need to be alert about:
Catfishing: This is the most basic form of scamming someone, where a scammer uses stolen or fake photos and information of existing or non-existing persons to target a victim. They try to build trust with their victims online pretending to be someone else, before asking for money, investments, etc.
Stolen videos: Scammers can also steal videos alongside images to make themselves seem more trustworthy. It needs to be seen how well Tinder's latest safety feature of selfie videos will be able to thwart the use of stolen videos.
Love bombing: Netflix's Tinder Swindler used this method to lure his victims and make them believe he was serious about their romantic prospects.
Leaving the dating app: Most fraudsters will try to shift conversations quickly outside the dating app; to WhatsApp or other social media platforms. This is because dating apps can be restrictive.
Refuse to meet offline: Most romance scams take place online. Scamsters online will try to avoid meeting victims in public by coming up with various excuses.
Blackmail: A 68-year-old Gujarati man lost nearly Rs 3 crore over a WhatsApp sextortion call earlier this year. Fraudsters may also use blackmail to steal your money by luring victims into racy webcam sessions which could be recorded without permission.
Crytocurrency scams: If your Tinder match suddenly brings up investing in cryptocurrency or other such subjects, they are most likely trying to con you. Cryptocurrency is not a subject most people have extensive knowledge about and hence unassuming people can be easily misled into losing their money through fraudulent investing sites.
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Being on the Tinder Photo Verified Cuties does give an added layer of protection; however, it isn't a guarantee. Scamsters can still try to bypass these rules. Moreover, users can still be on the platform unverified. Tinder has still not made photo verification mandatory.
Tinder also ran a campaign on online dating safety and identifying the red flags earlier this year.
Last year, Hinge, owned by Tinder's parent company Match, rolled out a video verification system to weed out bots and scamsters. Dating apps can also do better at safeguarding their platforms by hiring more moderators to manually weed out fishy-looking dating profiles. They can also strengthen their algorithms to detect odd profile behaviours, since no one knows their users better than dating apps themselves.
People may think that victims of romance scams may have been too dumb not to notice the obvious red flags; however, when in a situation where emotions are involved, rational thinking can go out the window.