From being swindled for money to catching a catfisher, we're chatting with real people in our community to see the prevalence of romance scams like we witnessed with the Tinder Swindler. Spoiler Alert: they are pretty damn common, even years before they've got mainstream press. We're talking to 6 daters: Leesa, Scott, Katie, Chris, Priyanka and Randy along with scam expert Adam Levin. We discuss why even the best of us can fall victim, signs to look out for to avoid a scammer, and how to protect yourself online while still embarking on your quest for love (safely) using dating apps.
Check out Adam Levin at https://adamlevin.com/ and check out his podcast 'What the Hack' and his book Swiped: How to protect yourself in a world full of scammers
Thank you to our partners for this episode:
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S14E9: True Stories of Romance Scams
00:00:01 - 00:05:02
The Dateable podcast is an insider's look into modern dating that the Huffington post calls one of the top ten podcast about love and sex. On each episode, we'll talk to real daters about. From sex parties to sex droughts, date fails a diaper fetishes and first moves to first loves. I'm your host Yue Xu, former dating coach turned dating sociologists. You also hear from my co host and producer Julie Krafchick as we explored this crazy dateable world.
What's up everyone? Welcome to another episode of the dateable podcast. We are here to be your dating sherpas and best friends as we discuss. Everything there needs to be discussed in modern dating and scams seems to be like the topic of the hour right now. I feel like you need a best friend when you've been skipped on a day to gap. So this is the perfect sock. Of all places to romance scam is probably the worst kind of scam. It really is. I mean, we're gonna go into this in the episode, but this has been around forever, but definitely in the recent months has been a lot of traction, a lot of Netflix shows around scams. We had the Tinder swindler, which was clearly very close to her with dating apps, inventing Anna, and then what was the vegan one? I'm like, always playing. Bad. Bad vegan. That was a good one. I haven't watched that one yet. Oh, it's so terrible. Because that's the thing with these people, like the victims that they portray, they're always smart. They seem level headed. They seem like very intelligent people, but then they get scammed because it's a matter of the heart. Yeah, and that's exactly what we set out to do in this episode was to see if this was actually happening to real life daters out there in our community. And when we put the initial call out audit, the response was overwhelming. Basically everyone's like, yep, I've been scammed. This is all a 110% true. Have you been scammed before? It's shocking. It's shocking. I've never been scammed as a romance scam, because I feel like as soon as someone asked me for money, I'm like, who the fuck are you? I haven't even met you. Why are you asking me for money? I have been almost scammed in so many other ways. I almost gave my car away with a wire fraud. Oh shit. I'm sure you've heard of this one. They send you well, wire fraud, but they send you a cashier's check. And it's usually sight unseen. They're like, I want your car. Here's the extra money, 'cause I'm gonna have a moving company, come get the car. So you pay the moving company. So they give you extra money, they don't negotiate with you. So you get this cashier's check that you can actually cash, okay? And then two days later, the bank will call you and say that cashiers check doesn't work. I don't know why there's a flaw in the system, but then by that point, you've already given away your car and you've given that quote unquote moving company, that extra money, which is just them stealing your car. You're paying someone to steal your car. Wow. You know, I got a call once and I freaked the fuck out. It was about student loans from UC Berkeley. And then I realized that I didn't even have student loans for UC Berkeley wait. I was like, in the moment, freaking out, I'm like, wait, this doesn't actually even exist. 'cause I went to like the post college program there. But I didn't have any loans. It wasn't undergrad. And you're like, wait, I didn't even go there. I mean, I did technically, but it wasn't like for that type of program that you would have loads for. It didn't make any sense. And then my poor grandmother, she was almost about to take out a ton of money because they knew all this info on my brother and sister in law, and they made it sound like they were kidnapped. And they were using their names. Her aid at the time was like, this is a scam. Thank God she would have fallen for it because they pray on older people all the time. They do so much of that. My mom and I were in Tibet and she got scammed by someone calling her saying, we know your husband has money in Shanghai, which is true. We have money in China. And they were like, we are the Shanghai police. You can call back on this number and then you call back and it's like the Shanghai police department. And she was on the phone for three hours crying 'cause they were like, we're gonna take away this money. Why are this money to us? This is illegal and she's like, I don't think this is illegal. Anyway, they went back and forth. She was at the ATM and I had just gotten back from wherever I was at. And I saw her at the ATM, I was like, mom, what the fuck are you doing? And she's like, I'm about to transfer some money to the Shanghai government. I'm like, no, you're not. Oh my God. Shit. What the fuck? Yeah, they really prey on older people. And I think a lot of romance scams are like that too. Well, yes and no. I mean, I think there is a truth, but then we also, in this episode, we talk to a scam expert along with actual daters and it sounds like anyone is susceptible to it. So while yeah, there might be some people that are maybe more. I think this could happen to anyone and even the people we talk to would say, I would never have thought that this would happen to me until it was me.
00:05:03 - 00:10:15
So I think it's easy to say for far. I would never wire someone money or I would never do this. But as we know with all dating type matters of the heart, when you're in it, it's a lot different. This is what is so ridiculous about these scams is that dating is already, we're already normalizing bad behavior. So when you experience what, I guess it could be quote unquote, good dating behavior. You want to believe that it's you want to believe that this person truly likes you and they really want to meet up with you, they're just in trouble for these random reasons. So it's unfortunate because it makes you become even more vigilant when dating because you're like, wait, is this a scam or do you really like me? Right. It's like one more thing you have to watch out for on apps. It's really shitty. I remember when I was on apps, I remember talking to the sky, and he was really attractive. Probably wasn't actually him. It's probably someone else's photo. In retrospect. And I remember him wanting to take it to WhatsApp, which is a surefire sign of a scam at the time I did not know that, but we've learned a lot that people want to take it off the platform ASAP because they don't want any of the traces on the dating apps. And I remember WhatsApp too tends to lend itself well because a lot of times these people don't live in this country. So not to stereotype, but a lot of them are from like Nigeria. That's like a fact that there's a lot of scams that happen from there. And I remember the guy speaking and very broken English and I didn't know as a scam at the time and I wanted to, you know, like you don't want to be like, oh, I'm going to discount this person because they're not speaking well. But then at the same time, you're like, this doesn't feel right, like there's something about it that doesn't feel right. And I mean, now that now that I know all the stuff I know about scams, I feel like if I stayed there longer, I probably would have got that hit up for buddy. Oh, a 1000%. I mean, there's no doubt about that, but for some reason, even though your body is giving you all these red flags like don't do it, don't do it. Your heart is still like maybe. Maybe there's a chance that this could be the love of my life. And I think we all are so willing to take that risk. That's why so many of us fall for the scams. Yes, we want you to do a Facebook poll and an Instagram poll to see how many of our listeners have actually encountered a scam. So here are the Instagram results. The questions have you ever experienced a scam on a dating app? 90% of people said, no, but I've seen scammy profiles. 6% said no, but I was close when they asked for money. And four percent said, yes, I was scammed for my identity and 0% said they were scammed for their money. So that's our Instagram results, but 90% of people said, yes, they've seen scammy profiles. And I truly believe that. I think for anybody who's ever been on a dating app, you're like, yeah, definitely seen some of these, either scammy profiles or those bots that you're talking to, where there's not a back and forth conversation, but they do respond to your messages. It's weird. It was interesting on the Facebook poll similar results that basically 99% of people had encountered a scam. 46% of people did see it in the profile, but never engaged. And we actually got a bigger percentage of people that, yes, they realized it before they asked for money or they turned down the request. So it was 25% realized before they asked for any money. 5% turned down their request for money and 2% actually gave them money. 2% to many. Yeah, that's unfortunate. Well, that's why we are doing this episode is we've compiled quite a few stories of people who've been scammed how they were scammed and the lessons they learned after they were scammed. So this will be a good learning episode for all of us to recognize some of the signs. And especially for those of us who think I can never be scammed, you never know. You could be next. Yes. And thank you to all the people that contributed to this because you are paying it forward. It's unfortunate that this happened. To you or maybe some of you were able to catch it in motion, but the more we educate people on what to look out for, that's how we make dating apps a safer place because our intention with this is not to scare people from using dating apps and online dating services. But it is to arm people with the right materials so they can recognize if something's too good to be true. Yeah, and it's not always for money, believe it or not. It could be for your identity. It could be for access to the place you work at or access to someone you know or are related to. So don't think it's always about money. All right, let's get into our first story. This one is with Lisa. She's 51 years old, lives in Atlanta, and she's curly in a monogamous relationship, but not with a scammer, thank God. This occurred in December 2018 over a period of probably two months and at the time I was on match dot com.
00:10:16 - 00:15:01
I had gotten divorced in February of 2018 and was just kind of putting my toes out there and at that point I wasn't necessarily interested in meeting someone face to face. I think I was just interested in just having conversations with people. So I saw the profile of a really cute guy, all the pictures. I was like, wow, this guy's really cute. So, you know, I was just in a little message, and he responded, you know, within a couple of hours to my surprise. And we communicated, you know, through the app, you know, basically throughout the rest of my workday and the evening, you know, he said that he was an engineer and he was going to Malaysia to oversee construction of a bridge. Someone had already been down there working as a supervisor and that person needed to come home. So he was actually leaving that evening, you know, from Atlanta, which is where I live, to, again, travel to Malaysia. He would be gone about two months. At that time, you know, we had spent most of the day chatting online, so when he asked me for my email address, you know, I didn't hesitate. So he basically said that night, you know, I'll reach out when I'm making. I was like, okay, you know, have a safe flight. So I heard back from him, you know, the next day that he made it. He actually sent a picture of himself in the hotel room. And I was like, oh, I'm so glad you made it. And he ended up saying that his cell phone didn't work in the hotel because I think I asked something about, you know, maybe we can, you know, communicate, you know, leave messages on the iPhone or something like that. And he said, oh, my cell phone doesn't work. Something's wrong with the exception and I asked the guy the hotel to help me and, you know, some BS. So he first asked me for iTunes cards so he can listen to the music and I said, no, I can't help you. And you know, again, he was very consistent in his communication. I think that's probably what helped me fall for the scam, because he reached out to me, you know, twice a day in the morning in the evening. We just shared, you know, our stories with each other, you know, he said that his mom had died. He had been in a relationship with some young lady and she ended up cheating, breaking his heart, and he said that he couldn't have kids or something like that. And I was like, well, you know, I've got kids, and I'm not looking to have anymore. And after a while, he asked me for a money card because his money, there was some freeze on his money from his bank here in Atlanta and I was like, that just seems off. You know, I don't understand why there's a freeze on your money. He said it would be the bank told him it would be a couple of weeks before it was released. So I was hesitant at first, but anyway, I bought this card and all I had to do was give him the pen number. So I purchased a card. It was a $1000. And I said, hey, here's the pin number, you know, this shit help you, and he said, oh, you know, on the I swear on the graves of my deceased parents, I'll give you your money back. And I said, you know, here it is. And I think maybe like two or three days later, he was like, you know, hey, hey love. I don't know what happened, but you know, I wasn't able to get the money off the car, something was wrong with the pen, can you send me another car? And I was like, what? And he said, please, you know, can you help me? And again, for the love of God, I'll give you your money back. So silly me, I still believed him. I bought another $1000 card, and I sent him the pen number and magically that one worked. You know, we're starting to get closer to the time for him to come back and I say, you know, looking forward to meeting you at the airport. And he even sent me, you know, airline details and surprisingly, I did Google that and it matched, you know, the departure, the flight, that matched. And but then, you know, they just started to be little bitty inconsistencies. There was always a delay. The closer it kept getting for him to come back. I started this when I started to get suspicious. I Googled his name. I said, hey, you know, where in Atlanta, do you live? And he gave me the area, you know, of town, and I was familiar with it. I Googled his name and still, you know, I just couldn't find much. And somehow I ended up on a site called romance scam dot com. I don't know how I ended up there, but I did.
00:15:02 - 00:20:06
And I saw this posting by a lady that said, beware of this man, which was the person that I thought I was communicating with all this time, and I was just flabbergasted. She said, you know, he's going to tell you he's an engineer. He has to fly to Malaysia to work on a bridge. She said it's not true. If you run into him, run the other way, and I was like, wow, I just could not believe what I was reading. And I'm like, this is who I've been talking to. And how did I feel? I felt horrible, embarrassed, definitely embarrassed. I was angry because I was like, this person's been lying to me. And so I reached out to this person, and I said, hey, you know, who is this person? And he said, oh, this person stole my identity. I've been working for a long time to try to clear my name. And he could tell the tone, you know, in my email had changed. He was like, what's wrong? I said, I do not like being lied to. I can not believe that you have lied to me. Don't reach out to me ever again. And he was like, well, you can't leave me here, something that's happening. I can't get out, you know, I'm unable to make this flight, you know, help me, nope, have a nice life. And he emailed again, he said, please don't leave me here. And I didn't respond. And I think I feel for it because I probably just, I like the conversation. It was just somebody that was consistent that I could communicate with and again, we shared our stories. Surprisingly, maybe a couple of weeks later, I received an email from him saying I made it back to Atlanta, the girlfriend that I mentioned to you before, you know, who broke my heart, we got back together, and she picked me up. I'm like, that's great. And he said, you know, I need some money. I said, I'm very surprised to hear from you. I'm not giving you anything else. And you know, he proceeded to be angry, you know? And I said, you know, who are you to get an attitude with me? And I said, as a matter of fact, you know, why don't you send me the money that you said that you would send to me, here's my address, have a nice life, and I never heard from this person again. The things that I would tell someone now to look out for, if the picture on the profile kind of seems like this person is just too attractive, possibly may look like a model. It likely is false. If it seems too good to be true, it is, if a person that you're seeing that is very attractive, responds to you very quickly and it's like, oh, you know, I think you're the love of my life. You know, blah, blah, blah. It's not true. It happened now. I would shut that person down quickly up just doesn't seem real, you know, have a nice life. Just basic advice, just be diligent. Also, when I was, I had been off the market 14 years. So when I was single before online dating, you didn't have these games. The profiles that were out there were real. You met somebody online, you chatted a little bit, you met in person and things progressed organically. They're just wasn't these fake profiles. These games just were not existent when I was in my late 20s, early 30s. So just be diligent, stay on top of your game and if they ask you for money, shut them down and keep it moving. It's too good to be true. It is. Next we have Scott. He's 44 years old, lives in San Francisco. He's divorced and currently taking a dating sabbatical. I have been on the dating apps cumulatively before and after a long term relationship for about four and a half years, yikes when I say it out loud. I would definitely scammed. I think women, I think, more get targeted for those romance scams where somebody builds up a relationship and then asks for some absurd amount of money to have a big operation or something, which is terrible. Men, I think it's a little bit different. I think we tend to get targeted by people who are like, hey, I want to come to your place. Can you send me $50 over PayPal, so I can take an Uber to you. Never underestimate the willingness of a lonely man to send somebody 50 bucks for an Uber or Lyft. I've definitely fallen for one of those in my early days when I sort of didn't know what I was doing, embarrassed to admit that. The one I fell for was pretty standard kind of like somebody who you chat with for a little while and they say, hey, we should meet up at a bar. That sounds great. And they tell you, well, money's a little tight right now. PayPal me, 50 bucks, so I can get a taxi, which is like, you know, looking back, there are red flags all over the place. And I should not have fallen for that. But I was naive and I did. And that feels terrible. You're being vulnerable and trying to connect with people like we all do on the apps, like trying to just connect with someone over some using some pictures and some blurbs and a little bit of texting. You show up to the place where you're supposed to meet the bar or whatever. And they never show up and you realize you've been made a fool of someone just was playing with you.
00:20:07 - 00:25:03
So they could get 50 bucks out of you. And it feels awful. Yeah, so anyway, my interesting scamming story, though, is once I figured out sort of what I was looking for, I kind of developed a pretty good sense of when I was talking to somebody who was a catfish or a scammer, right? And so I spotted one of these people and I was just sort of bored. And I just sort of started wearing them down and I was chatting with this person and I let them know like, I know that you're not the woman in the photos. It's honestly okay. I'm actually really curious to know more about you. Like why are you doing what you're doing? I'm just bored and like it would be cool to talk to somebody like tell me what's going on. And I just wore this person down and eventually he, well, I mean claimed this is what he told me, I assume he was telling the truth. He was a man in Nigeria, and like $50 U.S. goes a really, really, really long way in his country. And his country is not doing great. And there aren't a lot of job opportunities, and he spoke pretty good English. He did speak pretty good English. I actually type pretty good English. And that it was like he was successful at it by virtue of the fact that his English was pretty sharp. He let me know that he had gone to university in the UK and then after school he had moved back to Nigeria and that he was doing it to support his parents. And then he got to telling me about how difficult the economy is there, that it's really, really hard to find a job, and he started talking to me about all the political corruption. He was really passionate about it. He was really upset about the political corruption in his country, and how hard it made it to get by. And he also told me about how he was doing it to support his parents. And he told me about how it's a pretty common thing, like he knew other people who did this to make ends meet. It's just like a job that some people, I guess, did, I don't know. So after chatting with this guy for a little while, I think maybe an hour or something. I let him know, I said, listen, you know, I'm happy to send you some money, like it sounds like things are really difficult. And you're working really hard. And I get it. And I thanked him for being honest with me. And teaching me about something that I otherwise wouldn't have understood really. And he very politely and graciously declined, which I thought was really fascinating. Like maybe somehow it was like the sport of tricking someone into sending you the money that seemed that was the fun of it or maybe we had maybe somehow we had built some rapport and he didn't want my charity or didn't feel like it didn't feel like it was appropriate that it felt weird. I don't know. I thought it was really fascinating that he said no. And yeah, so that's my wacky scam story. I don't know. In a weird way, it was kind of an interesting reminder that everyone you're chatting with on the apps, even if they're not who they say they are, even if they're not even if they're pretending to be someone else. It's still a human being. You know, it's still another person you're sending messages to on these apps. I definitely obviously advise everyone to be really, really cognizant and aware of scams and even verified profiles on various apps can still sometimes not be the person who they say they are. But that experience for me kind of, I don't know. It just made me feel like, oh yeah, there's this world has a whole lot of people in it and these apps are an opportunity, not just to meet hopefully my special someone someday, but it's the Internet, you know? And it's just as wild and crazy as the Internet can be. Next story is with Katie, she's 38 years old that she currently lives in Detroit, Michigan, and she is dating someone but hasn't defined the relationship yet. In August of 2020, I got divorced after a ten year marriage and began the journey of dating apps. I had never used one ever in my life before, and I found myself at 36 trying all sorts of them. Unmatched dot com, I found this gentleman who seemed perfect. He was very responsive, asked me a ton of questions and was very good at giving me compliments. We met pretty quickly and due to COVID, we actually met at my apartment, which looking back was probably a mistake. We enjoyed each other's company and within that first date he requested that we define the relationship that we were exclusive and boyfriend and girlfriend. So we kept seeing each other for one week. We saw each other every single day and he just continued to be very complimentary. He made me dinner, candlelit dinner. He danced with me in the living room and serenaded me, brought me flowers in my favorite color and all sorts of very thoughtful things and was very reassuring that this is how life with him would always be.
00:25:03 - 00:30:07
And he thought we should even start talking about engagement within just a couple days of meeting him. And I was a little skeptical, but was also so flattered. And as we got to know each other, he had just moved to the area and started a new job. And he hadn't got his first paycheck yet. So he had a ticket that needed to get paid or he would lose his license and then wouldn't be able to get to work. So he asked if I would pay for his ticket. And that he was guaranteeing me he would pay me back as soon as he got his first paycheck. So I paid the ticket $165 and then he also told me this very dramatic story about his ex-wife who was physically abusive to him and manipulative and she had stolen his dog and dropped him in the middle of nowhere and a shelter had contacted him and had his dog, and he wanted to get the dog back, but knew he needed to have the dog neutered in order for him to live in an apartment. So we looked at pricing and it was way cheaper to have the dog neutered in the shelter than at a local clinic. And he asked me again. Would you pave for my dog to get neutered and then I will pay you back as soon as I get my first paycheck. And I agreed I'm very much a dog person. And I knew the prices were way cheaper. I had gotten my dog neutered about a year and a half ago, and it was easily three times the price at a vet clinic than at the shelter. So I paid for the dog to get neutered, which was another $115. Then he asked, you know, since things are going so well between us, I'm getting totally see that we're going to get married. Do you think you could let me get on your cell phone plan because my bill is due and I can't, I can't pay it. They want to cancel my phone. I really need my phone. And I kind of drew the line there. I said, you know, I don't feel comfortable doing that. And you seem fine with that. He didn't argue or anything. So we are going to things are going along quite nicely. He's spending every night with me and decided that he wanted to move in with me because it would just give us that much more time together to really get to know one another. And I was hesitant, but inevitably I agreed and that night after he moved in, he was like, I'm going to take you out and show you a good time like we are going to have the best time ever. I have the great plan and I am paying for everything. Leave your wallet at home, it's all on me. So we go to this very expensive, high end steakhouse that I had never gone to before because I knew it was expensive. And we get dessert and wine and I ended up ordering an appetizer because I felt bad. I didn't want to get a steak that was going to cost so much. So I just had the appetizer as my entree. And he paid the bill and tipped pretty well and then we were in the parking garage and couldn't get out. His credit cards and debit card were declined at the kiosk. So to me that meant he literally had spent every last penny on that dinner. And so he was going through his cup holders, getting spare change to get us out of the garage. Thank goodness he had just enough. And we went home to my apartment and got in some silly argument that lasted hours. And I did reveal after only knowing you for a week, I've did some Internet searching on love and how long it takes to know someone well enough to say you love them. They said it was like at least three weeks and I told them that and I was like, you know, I don't I don't know if we're using that word correctly now and so he called me emotionally abusive and said I was a liar and that he wanted to go sleep in his car tonight because he couldn't stand me near me and I begged him not to was cold and we ended up arguing until about 5 a.m. and I was pleading with him just to let me sleep. So eventually we get to sleep the next morning I wake up to walk my dog and I'm texting my friend. This guy is not what I thought he was we got in this big fight. Can you and your husband come to my apartment and help me get him out? Unbeknownst to me, she took that as I was unsafe in a dangerous situation. So she called the cops. During this walk with my dog, you know I end up heading back to my apartment and confront this man and say, you know, I really think you need to leave. My Friends are gonna come over and they're gonna make sure you go because I don't feel safe with you. I don't think I know you well enough to have you living here and I think we should break up. And of course he begged and pleaded and once he realized I was set on him leaving, he demanded that I pay him for the dinner last night because he had spent all of his money on me.
00:30:07 - 00:35:02
So at that moment, I felt like giving him a check for a $125 was the easiest way to get him out of my life and would be worth every penny. So I wrote him a check and he started packing. And then I get a knock on the door, thinking it's my Friends, and no, it's too police officers. And I start crying because one I'm embarrassed too. I've never dealt with police officers before, especially in my own residence, and I quickly explain I just about this guy a week ago, he moved in. We had a big fight. Now he needs to leave. He's packing right now. So I yelled back to him, hey, I did not call them. I didn't know they were coming. And I hear him like kind of flip out. But calm himself because, you know, it's a police officer in my apartment. And he's packing. Turns out stole my favorite hoodie and earlier in the year, my father had passed away from cancer, and I had all of his ties in my closet, and he took all my dad's ties, and the police made sure he left. And then he immediately went and cashed my check. I saw that. It came out of my bank account quite quickly. And his speeding ticket was a $165. I also paid for neutering his dog, which was another $115. And then the final dinner that I paid him for afterwards was a $125. So total, it was just about $400. In a bag outside of my front door. And eventually he picked it up, but we never saw each other again. I had blocked his number, blocked him on social media. Obviously, I deleted Manchin dot com. I was done with that app completely. I think what really shook me was the timing of everything and how rushed he was to one make me commit to future cast us getting married and wanting to move in within a week. All of those things, although our signs of a good relationship over time in the week, it was quite rushed. I remember speaking with my counselor and she, afterwards, she had said, you know, all of the things he did, the flowers, the making you dinner, the dancing in the living room, and serenading you and taking you to a fancy dinner are all wonderful things over the course of a 6 month relationship. But over the course of a week, it's a little much. So I think I'm very much more aware now of the timing and commitment requests early on as a sign of insecurity and I know I suffer with insecurity issues and I have insecure attachment at times. So I know I need to be aware of that anxiety and look for somebody who is more secure and is willing to take their time and not rush things. Also, to have someone ask you to pay for things within a week of knowing them, you don't really have the time invested to know if you can trust them. So that was a huge thing was I'm a very trusting person, I kind of give trust until you prove you don't deserve it. And in this case, that was a huge fault of mine. I really needed to take time to evaluate whether or not this person was trustworthy with $400 and clearly they were not. Next up, we have Chris. He's 37 years old, lives in West Virginia, and he's currently hooking up and having fun. I've been on these dating apps for well over a decade now. Pretty much all of them, you know, since I was in college. And now my current occupation is on the sex and dating coach. So I'm on these apps even more both as a user and to help out my clients. And I will say, I have seen so many scams over the years, dozens and dozens of scams, and recently, just as soon as recently as February, I was in Vegas. For this particular case, I was in Las Vegas for a funeral, and I had matched with this girl on Tinder. You know, and she looked pretty cute. We had a pretty good conversation going. I would notice it was just a little stilted a little bit weird, but you know, you never know, sometimes English isn't someone's first language or something. And but that's always like a mild red flag as if they're English isn't like perfect, then it's like, okay, maybe something's up. But when I saw her English wasn't perfect, I did what I always do whenever I get a minor red flag is I screenshot all of the photos like all of her photos in the profile and I put them through reverse image search to see if they pop up anywhere.
00:35:02 - 00:40:01
And none of these photos popped up anywhere like I use Google image search. I use ten I image search and they seem clean. So I was like, okay, this is probably a real person. And so we continued flirting and everything. And then she kind of went cold for a couple days. And then when she started responding again, her location was like four or 5000 miles away. And then that's when I'm like, oh, maybe something is up. But I was in Vegas and Vegas is a big travel hub. So I was like, well, you know, like the way I do it is I always just roll the dice. And I'm like, well, let's just see what happened. And, you know, so it's like, how was your weekend? And my weekend was like, you know, I talked to it was like a sob story of how I went and saw my uncle's funeral, you know, and it was kind of sad. And then this user, this woman, you know, supposed woman. She sent me this word, and it was like allay. ALA. And I was like, what does that mean? And then she just kept chatting and I was like, wait, what does that mean? Just in my head. So I start Googling it. And I end up on this Reddit post where a bunch of people were messaged that word randomly. And what it is, apparently, is it's like a Nigerian word. You know, I think it means like what's up Breda or something like that, you know, in Nigerian and I guess scammers use it to identify each other to make sure they're not wasting each other's time. Scammers love to use sob stories to lure their mark in. And so I think when I said I was out in Vegas for my uncle's funeral and it was kind of sad. They thought, oh, maybe this guy's also a scammer, so they sent me that code word olay. So then eventually I sent it back. So I said, so now that I know that this is definitely a scammer, you know, I'm like, I'll play with them and see what happens. So then I sent them, I sent them the word olay. And they sent him back a bunch of question marks and they were like very confused and acting weird in that Reddit post. They had some Nigerian insults. And so I copied one, just, you know, some kind of Nigerian insult. And I just sent it to him. And then they just start laughing and they cracked up and unmatched me before I could report them. Unfortunately, but that was such an interesting such an interesting dating scan that I had never seen before, where these Nigerian scammers have actual code words that they use to kind of communicate to make sure they're not wasting each other's time because I guess they respect each other's time not to waste it. Because I have a lot of dating clients who do a lot of online dating. Sometimes I will allow myself to be scammed just to see what it's like so I can go through the experience and better understand what maybe my clients see. So like a really common scam that happens all the time is when you meet someone and then they want to do like a video chat or a video date, but they don't want to use any of the normal services, like they don't want to use zoom. They don't want to use Facebook, you know, they don't want to use Skype. They want to use some no name like video chat website. Something you've never heard of before. And then the sign up process is like you have to input your credit card. It's a big pain in the ass. And I get those all the time. We're like sometimes I'll match with someone and they're like, hey, let's do a video chat. And I'm like, okay, let's do a Zoom call, or what's your Facebook? And they're like, oh, I don't give those out. Like, you have to use this site. And it's like you Google it and it's just a bunch of red flags, right? But so I did it one time. I was like, I wonder if it's, you know, let's try it and see what happens when you sign up and are they just gonna disappear or take your money. And so one time I did, I went through the whole sign up process with this scammer, like walking me through the process, and then it's like, okay, I'm in the site and I put my credit card because, you know, my credit card has insurance and stuff. And so I'm protected if they try to scam it and, you know, I'm like what worst case scenario I get a refund and cancel my card. It turns out, yeah, that's what I had to do worst case scenario. You know, long story short. But what happened was, you know, they kept saying, oh, I'm in the, you know, I'm in the meeting room, where are you? And I'm like, I'm in the meeting room, and you're not here. And then this goes back and forth until they just stop responding, right? And so, you know, then I canceled the payment and then I was like, let's just see what happens, right? Like, is this like a really bad site or is this just like a one time thing? Like, what happens if you actually get scammed? And so one thing I noticed was watching that credit card like every month there would be a new charge, even though I canceled everything, right? And it would be from a different company. And so every month I would cancel the charge, you know, and I'd have to file a fraud thing with the credit card company. And then they do the charge back. And then the next month, a different company would do like, you know, the same the same amount, but from like a different like a different merchant account. And so after like three or four months of this, I'm like fuck it, I just have to cancel my credit card and get a new number because this is annoying. So long story short is never give out your credit card in order to date someone.
00:40:02 - 00:45:00
Like never join a site that requires you to pay for it. That's always a red flag. And if you ever get an inkling that the person that you're communicating with may be a scammer, you know, I always recommend just doing a reverse image search. That's helped me ferret out a lot of scammers over the years. It's just, you know, it's a little bit harder to do like in Tinder, but some of the other programs it's easier to do. But like, you could just take a screenshot and send it to Google image search or to tin eye. That's another good reverse image search. And that'll tell you like, oh, this came from like a gallery. Like one time, this chick was flirting with me pretty hard. Oh, and then that's another thing, like if you're a guy, like if a girl comes on super strong in the beginning, like, unless you're used to that, like that's usually a big red flag. I see that all the time where guys will come to me and they're like, this chick was so down and I ruined it or something's going on and then you look and she's like way too thirsty way too fast and it's clear that this is a scammer. And then usually when you put those images, you know, you put her profile image in a reverse image search and it's usually like some Instagram model and it's like yeah, this famous Instagram model with 50 million followers is not messaging you on Tinder right now. Like the odds of that happening are zero zero to none. But yeah, you know, so definitely stay safe, stay vigilant and just be wary. Like anything that's too good to be true is usually it's too good to be true. And anytime someone is like, oh, you can date me, but we need credit card information. That's always a red flag too. Before we get to the next story, here's a quick message. This episode is brought to you by the baby or bus podcast. Did you know that one in 8 couples struggle with fertility? That's over 7 million people in the U.S. alone, and the risk of miscarriage, it's more common than breast cancer or diabetes. The challenges of your fertility journey, we don't talk about them enough. We assume that when you're ready to have kids, it'll be easy, but that just isn't the case for everyone. The journey can be expensive, mystifying and full of disappointment and shame. But there is hope. You are not alone. On the new podcast baby robust host Dr. Laura shaheen, an o-b-gyn and reproductive endocrinologist, answers your questions dispels the myths and transforms disappointment into hope the show explores questions such as should I put my hips up afterwards. When do you know it's a right time to have a baby do hot tubs really kill sperm? Join doctor shaheen each week for practical approaches for your fertility journey. You are not alone, really. Find baby or bust on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Have you ever thought about how much better dating would be if you had a whole army of people supporting you along the way. We know that dating can be frustrating and lonely, but it can also feel fulfilling and fun. Have you recently decided you want to make some changes to your love life? Maybe you've recently reentered the dating scene. Maybe you've gone on one too many dates that went nowhere, or maybe you're just ready to take your current relationship to the next level. That is exactly why we created the sounding board, a true extension of our podcast that delivers a personalized experience, which includes monthly office hours where you can drop in and chat with us about anything. Weekly sound offs with guided discussions and regular virtual happy hours, allow Julie and I to become your dating sherpas to provide real-time guidance and wisdom in a more intimate way so we can all navigate dating and relationships together. Join the sounding board today by going to dateable podcast dot com slash sounding board. Again, that's dateable podcast dot com slash sounding board. Next up, we have another one coming from Priyanka. She is 36 years old, currently lives in Atlanta, and she is single. I met him on an Indian dating app called del mill back in December of 2021, so we had talked a couple times, you know, message for a few weeks and like many online dating app relationships, it kind of just faded away after a few weeks. He was in Dallas, and I was in Florida, and then what happened is back in August of 2021, I happened to go to Dallas and while at was there meeting a friend, we both matched on bumble. So there were actually two apps involved. So when we matched on bumble, he messaged me again and was like, oh, hey, you know, I saw that rematch. You know, if you're in Dallas, that's meetup. So of course, you know, it's like, oh, it must be a sign. I talked to him 8 months ago. Maybe this means I need to meet him now, so I did go and meet him, and it seemed to go fairly well, just meant for drinks, nothing huge. And you know, we had very similar cultural backgrounds. You know, we both were Indian, both kind of raised and grew up in America and just very similar family backgrounds. So, you know, he was checking all the boxes, and he said, you know, he had a good job. I'd looked up on LinkedIn, so it seemed legitimate. So everything about him seemed to be, oh, this is great.
00:45:01 - 00:50:02
So after I left, we still kept talking a little bit, and then one day he calls me out of the blue and is like, you know, kind of frantic on the phone. You know, I was like, what's going on? And so he told me he's like, one of his friends got into a DUI situation and he didn't know what to do, and he really wanted to support this flame, so he had given him $10,000 for bail money. I told me it was ridiculous, but you know, that's just me. So, you know, he went off and he didn't say anything to me about money then and that was the end of that. A few days later, was when he called me and said, you know, I gave that $10,000 and he's not going to be able to give it back to me. I need to pay my rent. Can you help me? And you know, he asked multiple times and I was like, why don't you ask your parents when you ask your brother, because he has a brother. He was like, oh, no, I can't ask them this. They have a question about the $10,000. Frankly, even I question the $10,000 thing. But you know, he kind of wore me down and I was like, okay, well, I can take a leap of faith here and see what happens. And, you know, I lent him the $1500. And he had given me the guarantee that, hey, I will pay you back in a month. So he's so he said, in a month with my next paycheck. And I was like, okay. And then he gave the extra disclaimer. I will likely give it to you earlier, and I was like, all right, one week, two, week three weeks, the end of the month arrives. And the day before the day he told me he was going to give me back the money, key messages me, not calls, he never calls me outside of the day he asked me for money, which is probably should have been the first red flag. He told me I lost my job. The company did a massive layoff and I was laid off and I can't pay you back, but I can't pay you back tomorrow at least, but I'm going to be receiving a severance in our pay you back with the setback. And I was like, okay, he's like, I'll pay you back next week. I was like, all right, that week became two weeks, three weeks. It became the end of 2021, and he said he didn't get a 7th, which seemed really odd, more company doesn't do that, especially a big company. Whatever it was, after that, he would tell me I'll pay you back next week, I'll pay you back in two weeks with some sort of caveat. And he kept getting away with it. Then eventually after my somewhat threatening of legal action or some sort of action, I started to get some residual money out randomly get $200 one day. Then a few weeks later, after another deadline he would send me another $200. Then I got $294 once. And then most recently, last week, in fact, because I had set a final deadline of the 31st to get me back the rest of my money, you sent me $300 instead. And this has been maybe a tenth or 11th deadline, if not more, that he's kind of just passed by, and he still owes me $394. So he has been kind of giving me back my money, but not fully. As time has gone by just a ridiculousness of some of the lies and reasons for the delay. And then, you know, if someone was legitimately sorry, I feel like they would put forth the effort to apologize or, you know, say like, I'm going to get it back to you, but the fact that I am constantly the one instigating and asking where's my money was my money. It makes me feel like a nag, but I'm at the same time, you know, it is my money. So, you know, I explained the situation to one of my friends. I didn't really want to tell many people about this clearly because it makes me feel stupid that I kind of fell for this. So I did confide in one or two friends and, you know, they were the ones who really were like, no problem. This is a scam. Like, you have fallen for a scam. And I think, you know, I was something I knew for myself, but I guess I'd also needed that extra voice to kind of just confirm what I was already thinking. And even though he's sending me money periodically, there's something there's something else going on that I'm just not aware of, but it just makes this entire situation super shady, especially for all the ridiculousness that he sent me in terms of messages and excuses and why do I think I fell for the scam is primarily because of our similar backgrounds. What would I have done differently? If it happened today, so many things want to hopefully would never give him money. And two, if I did, I would have it outlined in a full on contract and make sure that it's formulated and written so that I can do something about it, you know, since then I've taken a lot of images and captures of all the messages we've had back and forth. In case I do need to follow lawsuit and to have avoided that headache, it would have been much easier to formalize it in a contract itself.
00:50:03 - 00:55:00
Advice to anyone out there, so trust your instincts and at the same point, we all want the romance but at the same time don't get caught up in the signs and potential signs and the romance of it. And sometimes it can, in my case, it can be the person you least expect. I didn't expect a person of what seemed to be a similar upbringing to kind of do that. And it just goes to show that you can be fooled by anyone. So I think, you know, another big point for me would be, you know, if you have a question, ask a friend, especially one that you find trustworthy because sometimes you just need that other voice of reason that's not up in the clouds to kind of tell you what it is and just guide you a little bit more because it is easy to get caught up when you're out in the dating world these days. So especially when it comes to money and your money and money you have earned don't take any chances in that respect. And then our final story is from Randy. He's 33 years old, lives in Chicago and he's currently dating. Yeah, so this story starts back in 2020 right before we went on lockdown here in Chicago. I had just kind of just got out of a long-term relationship and I met some new friends at my new job that I started working at and they were telling me, you know, you should try the you try the apps and all this other stuff and I hadn't tried it before because I was with the previous person for like ten years and so the whole app thing I just missed out on. So I was like, okay, you know, I can try it. And so I get on there, I start swiping, I'm doing a little bit here and there. A couple conversations they fizzle out and then finally I match with this girl, I think her I don't know if it's a girl, but we chat back and forth for a little bit, but almost pretty quickly she wanted to move over to Instagram. And I was like, okay, maybe this is how this works. Our Friends were telling me, you know, you just got to get off of the actual app and then get on to Instagram or texting and things. So I was like, okay, makes sense. All right, we're going. We're moving forward. And we get on Instagram and she starts sending pictures. She started off just by sending like a picture of herself with just an oversized shirt or something like that real and then showing leg. I kind of thought that was weird, but I was like, okay, maybe that's just who she is. I felt like she was still showing interest. So whatever. So now we moved over to Instagram and we're messaging back and forth, kind of being flirty, and then almost out of it feels like it came out of nowhere all of a sudden she just kind of wants to meet. She's like, I really want to meet up. I'm myself. I'm like, I don't know if I'm ready to meet up. I'm like, you know, especially for her, I'm her and I'm like, you don't even really know me. You're talking about meeting up, but she seemed pretty eager. And I was just like, okay, I guess we could try and say something. I was like, oh, if we said something up, you know, maybe a week out or something, or two weeks, and we'll meet at a coffee shop or something. She starts talking like she wants to meet up for other stuff and I was gonna be like, yeah, I'm gonna, I'm not ready for all of that. But at that point, she seems like really eager and all this other stuff. She wanted to make sure that I even lived in the city. She asked me, what part of the neighborhood I lived in. At the time, I think when I was messaged her though, I was in Chinatown with a couple of friends. And at that point, she's like, you know what, you know, I'm pretty close, I think. We can meet up, and I'm like, yeah, as soon as I agree to meet up, that's when she hits me with this website, but she's like, but before we meet up, I have to make sure that I'm safe. And I'm like, okay, yeah, I don't know what you mean by that. I agree. You should be safe and you should be because she was so eager before, so that's why it was like, okay, yeah, you're right, you should be. But that's when she sends me this website, and then she's like, well, I use this website to make sure that the people go through this whole checking thing, something or another, it checks through background and all this other stuff. And though website was like HP ER a dot org, which stood for harassment, prevention, equal rights advocates. I think that's what it was. So she sent me that link and I get on the link and I'm looking at the website and I'm looking and it's like, I don't know, it looks a little weird. And I'm looking at it and then it's asking for a credit card. And I'm like, well, that's a no go. I'm not putting my money toward anything. And I was kind of like the first tip, but at the same time, I think I was still kind of caught up in the moment of somebody wanted to actually show interest. Yeah, especially at that time, I had just got out of a long-term relationship and I mean, I was in not the best place because the reason I probably stayed in that relationship longer than I should have is due to me feeling like there was going to be no one else. So the fact that someone shows some interest, especially at that time, I was probably not using my head. I was probably thinking more with my emotions, trying to get some validation. So when I look at the website, I'm like, well, I just tell her, I'm like, it's not working. My credit card is not working on it. And she's like, okay, well, she's like, I really want to meet you.
00:55:00 - 01:00:03
She keeps doing that stuff, then she sends another pick. This one kind of shows her without like, there's like a boob out and I'm just, I don't know. And that kind of just kind of turned me off to be honest, and I was just trying to figure out how to be nice and let her down. I'm like, I don't know, it's not work. I was trying to get to the point where I could just tell that you don't have to meet up now or this soon or whatever. We can meet up later, because I was still looking to just have a date. I am just trying to meet this person, maybe for coffee or something. I'm not trying to go all the way or any of that stuff. But she sent that and then she's like, well, there's a way around it, and all this other stuff. And I don't know. I think, I don't even know how I got back to this point, but I was, I don't know, somehow I got back on board enough to she said that there was a way to because I still just wanted to date. At that point, I think I was even in the moment where I was trying to like, well, I can prove that I am safe. I was like, I had nothing to hide. So then she tells me that she can do it from her end if I give her the code to a gift card. So she was giving me these different codes that I could use. So one of them was steam. And so I like ran out because it was that late at night at that point. And I was back at home. So I ran outside real quick and saw if I can get a steam thing and she said it would only be $50 or something. I don't know. It's embarrassing, but yeah, I paid the 50. Scratched off the back of the steam thing and you put it and took the picture and then I was like waiting for her to not respond to me anymore. Because I was like, that's all she wanted. Then she comes back in this saying like, okay, yeah, but I actually need some more. And at that point, I was like, no, we did 50. That was overstepping for me. I'm not doing anymore. And I'm like, no, you know, the places are closed. I can't find it. She's like, please, and then she starts using the word babe. And at that point, that complete turned me off. I don't like being called that. I don't know, like baby and stuff like that, especially we don't have a relationship. I don't know who you are. And you just didn't feel right coming from her. So I was just like, no, we're done. I was like, I've kind of done it. And I was trying to just get off and she was just kept signing messages saying, come on, do you still want to meet up and all this other stuff? And that's where that ended. So yeah, and then I got into maybe two more scams, but those I probably, this one actually got money out of me. So the other two didn't. Maybe about three months ago I was on Tinder again and came across someone trying to pull a scam on the and I kind of had a hint of it just 'cause trying to get to Instagram again. They wanted to get on Instagram pretty quick and all this other stuff and I was like, looking at their profile, they were a little more, I didn't want to say that, but they're a little more attractive than to be too eager to be so to be so ready to get over that to get over to the Instagram. And I was like, okay, I'm already on my guard about this one. And I kind of troll this person to the point where they start when they try to give their website. I actually still had the messages from the previous person. I gave them that link website. And I was like, oh, I just want to be safe too, 'cause they did the same thing. The same script where they were like, I just want to be safe and they sent me a website so that way I can register or whatever it was on there. And I'm like, oh, well, I'm glad you brought that up because then I throw the other website on there and I'm like, 'cause I like to use this one. And then they just kind of blew up at me just in messages the last message I had sent to them was like you mad bro because yeah, for just such little bit of interaction because I'm not I didn't give them anything to really attach any of that stuff too. So if someone seems way too eager or if they seem like they're skipping steps into getting to know you, I'd say definitely stop communication for a moment and just re collect yourself and then go in fresh again and feels wrong just pause like as soon as something just makes you kind of make a face like what or you question or you're just kind of it just throws the whole vibe off. If you're in a place where you're really vulnerable to someone taking advantage of just giving you attention and I think yeah you just got to take it slow yet. I needed to pause for a second. Get a second opinion or something because I was by myself texting this person and it just seemed like I was losing them at the moment or if I don't respond and then I could this could be my last chance and definitely not a good place to start if you're trying to get into a relationship. I guess I wouldn't even think that far. I was just like I just felt like I wanted to have another chance. I went to therapy better place. I could recognize that stuff now. I don't look for anyone's validation as far as like what or who's interested in me or things like that. It's more questions of what am I okay with something or am I interested in something that someone's doing? Does that make me feel good? Like the whole babe thing. That doesn't make me feel good. And I should have cut it on the way before that. Definitely shouldn't use no money. So we've heard all these stories about people being scammed. Now the question is, how can we prevent ourselves from being scammed? And so this is our chance to talk to a scam expert. His name is Adam Levin. He's 72 years old, currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and he is married. He's the author of swiped how to protect yourself in a world full of scammers, fishers, and identity thieves, and he's also the host of the podcast, what the heck with Adam Levin.
01:00:03 - 01:05:03
So here's Adam. Adam, so as someone who is an expert in scams, why do you think scammers are so prevalent on dating apps? I think because they feel that it's easy pickings is that people are more willing to give information about themselves. They're more open to just talking about things and not even realizing that they're giving away information about themselves. And he just is one of those things where a dating app I think for most people is kind of a happy place. And when you get a happy place, you do happy things and part of happy things is you talk a lot. You communicate, you give away too much information. So why do people scam in the first place? Like, what's the motivation for the people on the other side? Money, oftentimes. Money or access to personal identifiable information, which they can then use to recreate an individual. And then the impostor scam continues, they lure other people in, and they get either more information they can use to commit additional identity theft or more money. Well, identity theft usually leads to money, right? Is there something else behind that? No, it generally leads to money, but sometimes if it's a situation where someone has an axe to grind against someone. It may not necessarily be about the money. It's just like when we talk about hackers, there are four kinds of hackers. There's cause hackers, because I can hackers, for profit hackers, and state sponsored hackers. Russia, Korean China, Iran, Iraq, like that. It's a situation that we're living in a world now where breaches have become the third certainty in life. There is an enormous amount of information out there about each and every one of us. Some people will go on all sorts of different apps in order to finish the mosaic because every piece of information think of it as a little tile, you put the tiles together, now you have the person. And, you know, there is one additional aspect to all of this. You know, a lot of people I talk to them and I say, look, I realized the first inclination is, who would want to steal my identity? I mean, you really cares about me. Who would want to steal my credit? I'm just a regular person. A lot of folks don't realize you look in the mirror, you see you, but to a hacker, you're Jay-Z Beyoncé, Sharon Stone, Adam Levine, because you got what they want. You have information you have all sorts of different kinds of pieces of data, financial as well. Or you could be a tributary to a larger river. And that means it's not you thereafter, but they're looking for someone you're married to, someone you have a relationship with, a business you work for, a philanthropic activity that you spend time with and you're going to be the way in. You know, as a perfect example, when target was breached, they didn't walk through the front door. They didn't go directly after target systems. They compromised a subcontractor to target that ran the chilling units at target, and through that digital connection, they managed to crawl into target and then into the point of sale system and into the database. So someone on a dating app could be trying to get to know you up close and personal because they want to get through you through your credentials into a place you work. So are there certain sectors that are more vulnerable to that or should, I mean, I guess the takeaway is should we even put our company names in our dating apps? Well, the problem is, you know, you have to be very careful with what you're putting a dating app and you also have to be careful with the information you give away while you're communicating with someone on a dating app. But you also have to be careful to make sure they don't lure you off the dating app onto another app that may have less protections against things like malware or ransomware and stuff. The dating apps do. So it's kind of a fine line. One of the suggestions that I like to give people is, look, set up a separate email account. That only relates to your dating. Not only that, set up a separate phone account. Google Voice, we said. Get Google Voice. Just so that if anything goes wrong, you can kind of short stop it. And know where it's coming from. So, you know, those are things that people need to think about. But the most important thing is, you know, don't do things like throw away lines when you're communicating with somebody in a new relationship. Oh, it's like I'm going to the gym now. And or I'm going on a trip tomorrow or anything to you. It's like because if someone knows where you are, they could stalk you.
01:05:04 - 01:10:07
If so knows someone knows where you aren't, they could burglarize you. So, you know, that's why it's important to be a little circumspect, and all of this falls under the rubric of romance scams. And romance scams can get pretty ugly. And with a romance scam like a dating app scam. It's like people go from zero to wanting to have your child or wanting you to have their child in a matter of days or hours depending upon, you know, how people respond. So you need to be very careful because they are looking for money. That's for sure. They are looking for your information. They also could be asking you, let's face it. Everybody seems to be doing it is people send compromising pictures. They think it's all part of the fun and sexiness of communicating on dating apps, but once you send someone a copy, you know, they can send you a compromising picture except it's not them, but you don't know. Exactly. Whereas you send them your compromising picture. That's you. They got you. Well, especially, yeah, we had someone talk about this a long time ago in episode they basically got blackmailed after. Because their face was in the photo. Absolutely. We've heard from our community that a lot of people that are older women that are divorced with children tend to be targets for these scams more than maybe people in their 20s. Is there any truth to that? Or do you see a certain sector of people that are the most targeted? I think basically if you're breathing, you're targeted. If you're older, more established, they might be more interested in stealing your money. If you're younger, they would probably want to get as much information from you as possible so they could create a fake you. It could be about money too. I mean, let's face it if you come from a well healed family or you have been incredibly successful at a young age. You know, again, you have a target on your back, assuming that you give too much information away about who you are. So it's just always be careful. Calm down, don't immediately jump for something. And there are telltale signs. First they come on too fast, too strong. Secondly, their language seems almost Shakespearean. Or it's coming out of a grade B movie. Right. See, they always have a crisis where they just can't seem to meet you. I mean, I've seen cases where someone actually convinced someone their child had been kidnapped and they needed help with the ransom money. They get you to send compromising pictures. It's almost like the scammers playbook. There was also a story about a woman and her daughter operating out of Colorado that would do romance scams on the people pretending that they were service members deployed overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were lonely. They wanted to communicate with somebody and over a relatively short period of time they would lure people in, and they made over a $1 million, and that's game before they got caught and arrested, prosecuted and sent to jail. So, you know, it's, look, dating apps can be a lot of fun. People should go to it with the mindset that I want to have a good time. I want to meet people and whether I want mister or miss right now or mister or miss forever. You know, that's up to the individual, but understand the fact that not everybody is your friend, not everybody is in this because they want to do nice things for you and for themselves. Often they want to be nice to themselves at your expense. So you have to be a little circumspect. Well, I guess the other question I have is we talked about there's some things you can look out for. We want people to not be discouraged to use data gaps, but also be mindful that this is happening. What are some other ways that people can protect themselves and stay conscious of this? Well, I think that if you can become affiliated with the dating app where they actually verify the identity of the person, you know, one of the ways and this is like sort of general consumer protection advice or what we call cyber hygiene. So if you're going to be involved in apps of whatever kind and you're going to expose yourself at some level, then these are the things you have to do. First, you have to make sure that you use long and strong passwords on your accounts and do not under any circumstances use the same password throughout your entire universe of websites. And yes, password is not a password. And one, two, three, four, 5, 6, 7, Ashley Madison. A lot of people ran into trouble on that one because they were using like one, two, three, four, 5, 6, 7, some variation of that.
01:10:07 - 01:15:05
You don't do that. Another thing people have to remember is, even if you have an incredibly strong password, if it's on another website because you use the same password. And that website gets breached. You doomed. Now, if you say, I can't remember all these passwords, you can group different kinds of websites and then use passwords on them that are similar to the group. And the level of the password increases geometrically with the sensitivity of the information that you are providing, but get a password manager. It's so much easier. It creates passwords. That's good. Multi factor authentication. Everywhere that you can use it, you really need to use it. And then make sure you don't lose whatever the trusted devices that the codes go to. Right. So a lot of apps, you know, a lot of them are connected to social signups, Tinder, their whole thing was you can be have a profile in two minutes by just connecting to Facebook. What are your thoughts about using social sign ups? Is that also really risky? This goes back to the whole argument with security and convenience. Every time convenience trumps security, you're hanging out just a little bit more than you want to hang out. It may take a little longer to type in the password, but you know what? You might want to do that. And I realized that all of the social media platforms promote this because it's a way of connecting you even more tightly with them. And people do it, but then you just have to make sure if it's connected to a social platform that you have very long and strong passwords attached to that platform. And that you're not sharing your password throughout your universe of websites. So this is definitely more on the breach side. What about when you're on the app and someone's contacting you? We hear a lot of stories about people not getting money stolen from them, but them actually proactively giving money away. How do you see signs of that and know what to look for? Well, you know, first of all, I mean, I was on a show a few years ago with two women they were both a caregivers, home healthcare nurses, both in their mid 50s, both incredibly caring individuals, both of whom got taken for over $60,000. Oh, no. By catfishers. There's a story of a woman who was in her 60s who gave $2 million to somebody that catfished her over time. And the only way that anyone found out is that her financial adviser got really worried about her withdrawals and especially that money was being wired overseas. And so her family was contacted. And here's the scary part is when it was very clear to her that she had been taken for a ride by this scammer for a 2 million, which she never got back. And she said, I realize now it's a fraud, but in my heart I still love it. The folks who are really good at this. They crawl into your soul and they they can twist you into doing all sorts of things, which is tragic, but they can. That's why the number one tip of we've had several guests on the show at different times, and what the heck were they talk about it and they go, everything was fine, and then all of a sudden he asked me for $30,000. And that's when I shut off. The scam that one of the women was talking about was a guy who had a profile on LinkedIn and they were communicating, had a profile that he was a distinguished doctor from the Boston area that he goes overseas. He is starting a clinic to help people in the Middle East that everything was great except they brought their equipment in it got stopped at the airport and he only needed $30,000 to get the equipment out of the airport. Her response, it was like he had me at hello and lost me at 30,000. Because it's like, if you could afford to set up a clinic, how come you can't afford to get your equipment? So this is the thing, right? Let's say you encounter scammers to on a dating app. I've definitely encountered them. What do you do at that point? I usually just unmatch with them, but then should you report them? Is there a protocol for that? Yes, you should absolutely. Because they give you an opportunity to report and you absolutely should report because remember, you're not only protecting you, but you're protecting every other man or woman on that website who could be taken in. And the thing about some of these scammers and I've had people say, you know, I couldn't tell whether it was a man, a woman or a group of people. You don't know. That were communicating with me. So that's why when I used to live in New York, the big thing was if you see something, say something.
01:15:06 - 01:20:06
Well, if you sense that someone is attempting to take advantage of you on a dating app, you can also assume the fact that you're not the only one, and they're out there doing this or trying to do this to everybody else. So a lot of people would say, I'm never going to get scammed. Yeah. I think a lot of even the people that we're talking to in this episode never probably thought that they would be the ones to get scammed. What would you say to these people? Just like we talked about earlier. And that is when you see you, but to someone who's scamming you, they see a famous person. In their world, because you got what they want. And they're going to, they're going to come after you, and they're going to, they're going to try some of them just cast a very wide net. And they just say, whoever bites, this is good, we'll take them to the next level. But some of them are very specific. They literally stalk people. They stalk them on social media, and they zero in on a few people. They read their all the stuff on their profiles. And then they will use that information as the hook to get the target involved excited about them, and then they move in for the kill. And that's why I'll give you a real simple thing. When you set up security questions and answers on websites, lie like a superhero. And the reason is, because many people post so much information about them, selves. On these websites, that if I'm a scammer, I know where you went to school, I know where you work. I know what you like to do. I know what you love to go. And so I'm going to drop little hints in our conversation like little breadcrumbs that I hope you'll follow, that will ring a bell, get you more interested in who they are and what they're doing. I just think that the most important thing to think about is that we all have day jobs. We raise families, we work for people, we run businesses, we do podcasting. We're involved in educational activities or philanthropic actors. That's our data. But to a hacker, a scammer or an identity thief, we are their day job. Okay, you ate, this was a lot. What are some of your takeaways? 'cause I definitely have some floating goodbye. I just feel like my biggest takeaway in terms of scams is that once you're experiencing the red flags that your body and your mind are telling you, you should listen to it. Just kind of pause. But your best friend is Google. People who are doing all the scams have already scammed other people. So they're being reported online, always do your due diligence and Google the people you're going out with. We used to think this was like a stocking tactic. I really think it's a safety measure. It's a safety measure for sure. I think the other piece too is when things feel too good to be true. Often times they are. And it's unfortunate because we're all looking for that feeling. We're looking to get swept off our feet. It's like Tinder swindler, the women were so happy they finally met that guy of their dreams. And we want to believe people have good intentions. And I do believe that most people do, but when people start asking for money, they have this, it's always this like far fetched story and why are they going to you for money? Someone that they barely know. So in all of these stories, whether someone actually met in person or not, there was a similar theme that you didn't know this person for very long. You did not discover if there's trust if you should lend this person money. And I think that's a big piece of it that we want the best to happen, but that's just not always reality. It was also very fascinating to me that there was a lot of different motivations targeted to versus women. It was definitely more of the love story to women and more of the sex ask, you know, for men. Yeah, and although people don't label him as a scammer, I would say west elm Caleb kind of falls into the same storyline where, yes, he didn't scam people out of money, but he was love bombing them, even though he didn't know them very well. He was making them all the same playlist on Spotify that people thought like, oh my God, he's not in love with me. So I think it's just goes into trust your gut because if you have to ask why is this person so nice to me, even though they don't know me? That is a red flag, even though we all want that affection that affection still needs to be earned. It's like not automatic from the beginning, especially if you haven't met this person in in person yet. Yeah, I think the problem is that in our society, everything is on demand all the technology get ubers at the touch of your fingertips, we expect that with love too.
01:20:06 - 01:25:03
In dating apps, it almost seems like that could happen, but the reality is it takes time. All of this in our expectations, a lot of times we just don't have enough data to decide if something is real or not at this point. So it's our fantasy and expectations getting ahead of us, not what's not the facts. What's actual in that moment? Yeah. Oh, it's so unfortunate. It's so sad, but we just have to be very careful about who we are talking to. I think another safety measure you can take is get on the phone. Yes. Get on a video call because some of them don't want to show their face because most likely they don't look like that person. Right. In the photos. Right. Most likely they're not even the same gender. Right, that is a quick way to discover how reputable this person is. I don't know. I've been struggling with this a little of how much accountability these apps should be taking. On one side, I see them that they are connection platforms. And it's not like the people on their app are related or endorsed by them in any way. So I see that perspective of like you're using this at your own risk. I know like when I ran 500 brunches, I couldn't control all the people that showed up. So I get that. But then on the other side, it is their platform. There is accountability in some way. Many tech companies like Uber, like ones that have a lot of independent contractors, there is verifications. There is fraud protection. So I do kind of feel like these dating apps should step up a bit more. I know there has been identity verification, but I wish that there could be a step further because that's not always required or always something that is a go to on these apps. What do you think could be a farther step? Maybe a friend endorsement like two other people on the app need to endorse you to verify that you're a normal person. I don't know. It's hard. What is it that extra step they can take? I mean, I think as soon as people start reporting and that's why reporting is so important for the community too. I don't know, of course, we're not insiders into apps, how serious each reporting is, but I think the second someone says, it's a scam actually needs to be taken, but that problem with that is if someone's already handed over their credit card, it's already done at that point. And the profiles are fake, so it's hard to track people down. Yeah, I was going to say social media, but even that can be hacked, right? If you set up fake LinkedIn and all of that, not everyone has social media. So that wouldn't be fair to people either. It's a tough predicament and I don't that's why I think it's like, I don't blame the apps a 100%, but I also feel like a lot of people are reliant on apps. A lot of people are already frustrated. So if an app could come through and have more safety, that could go a long way. I just update for you. I just got two more of those LinkedIn requests of Asian men who went to school in China, then they went to Stanford business school and now they're CEO of some company or they work at Tesla. So many of the exact same profile, no endorsements, no activities, they are completely just, you know, making these making up these profiles so they can scam people and dating sites. It is so bad. I don't know how to do that. I don't know how to report them because they're not real people. It's really scary that you can build up an entire online persona. That may not be true. It's very terrifying. And again, we are pro technology here, so we're not saying, don't use the Internet, don't use dating apps, but it is important to remember that you do not know this person. And only over time. So I love what Adam was saying to of be careful what you actually put out there on your profile. That doesn't mean that you can't put anything on there, but maybe instead of saying your place of employment, you just say your occupation title. Don't divulge too much. We're in a generation of TMI everything. Yeah, maybe just hold back a little bit. Exactly. To give everything away. Yeah, at least to the first date or video call where you could acknowledge that there are real person, but that being said, even that, you know, we've heard stories on this episode where, you know, you actually meet in person and then this happens. So I think until trust is really established, be careful like what you divulge, but the common theme with all of them is that they did have a feeling that something was off. Totally. And chose to be justified in some way like, oh, we're connected or, you know, this feels really good. I haven't had this in a while. So really listen to your body with this stuff. That's so much more important than listening to your brain even. Yes. So true, all of them said, this didn't feel right. Or I just had a funny feeling, but I still went through with it. Listen to yourself when you have those feelings. I think another thing that all of them had in common was the kind of shame that's attached to it, you know, and at some level I do get it, 'cause you're like, I'm a smart person.
01:25:04 - 01:27:56
How could I have been scammed out of this? But also know that all of us could be victims to this because we are all trying to find love and love is so prioritized in our lives and when you are looking for love, you start overlooking some of the other areas in favor of it, right? Just don't give your credit card ever. That's the lesson. Fuck, I know. I know. Yeah. Okay, let's not get scammed out there. We're gonna wrap up this episode. Thanks so much for everyone who shared their stories and for being vulnerable with their stories. And for anybody who's listening to this, you had a similar situation, definitely DMS, email us, because we are happy to do a follow-up episode. You can email us at hello at dateable podcast dot com or DM us on Instagram at dateable podcast. And you know what's not a scam review, because when you write our reviews, we are able to get better sponsors and better guests. So that is not a scam ever. So if you have 5 seconds right now, please give us a nice review on Apple podcasts. 5 stars were a love letter or both. We love it all, and we promise we will not scam you. This is now my favorite part of the podcast. Why do you relate that? How are you relates the podcast? It cracks we have every single time. Okay, we're gonna crack ourselves up by closing out this episode. Wrapping this up. The dateable podcast is part of the frolic podcast network. Find more podcasts you'll love at frolic media, slash podcasts. Want to continue the conversation? First, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with the handle at dateable podcast. Tag us in any post with a hashtag stay dateable and trust us. We look at all those pose. Then head over to our website dateable podcast dot com. There you'll find all the episodes as well as articles, videos, and our coaching service with vetted industry experts. You can also find our premium Y series where we dissect, analyze, and offer solutions to some of the most common dating conundrums. We're also downloadable for free on Spotify, Apple podcasts, Google Play, overcast, stitcher radio, and other podcast platforms. Your feedback is valuable to us, so don't forget to leave us a review. And most importantly, remember to stay dateable. As long as I continue to make everything look pretty and shiny on the outside, I didn't care how miserable and ugly I felt on the inside. I realized that I deserved a better me, so I can be the wife and the mom that I really wanted to be. If you're ready to get real about addiction treatment, call Karen, a recent independent study showed that 94% of Karen patients were still in recovery 90 days post treatment. Visit CAR ON dot org slash real, Karen, real results, real care, real about recovery.