In the new Netflix documentary, The Tinder Swindler, three women share their stories of being coerced into lending large sums of money to a man who claimed to be the son of a diamond exporter. All three of them initially encountered him on the dating app Tinder. Once a relationship was established, the Tinder Swindler asked the women to send money to help him escape from his ‘enemies.’ Although the Tinder Swindler, claimed to be worth billions, none of the women ever got their money back.
The Tinder Swindler was engaging in the crime of Romance Fraud.
Romance Fraud is a type of financial scam in which the fraudster establishes a romantic relationship with the intention of extorting money from the target.
Typically, these relationships begin in dating apps or social media websites. Fraudsters will often claim to be working outside of the UK or make other excuses for keeping the relationship online only. However, as we see in the Tinder Swindler, some fraudsters may frequently meet with their target in person.
Top Tips for Avoiding Romance Fraud
As family law solicitors, we think it’s important that you know the signs of potential Romance Fraud, so here are our top tips:
- Talk to your friends and family – Fraudsters use grooming tactics and coercive control to make their victims question their perception of reality (you may have heard the term ‘gaslighting’), this can make it difficult for the victim to identify the fraud and to make rational decisions. Talk to your friends and family about what you’re experiencing. If they have concerns, it may be that they can see the situation more clearly than you because they haven’t been subjected to coercive behaviour.
- Don’t let anyone rush you into making a financial decision – When fraudsters demand money, they will often create a sense of urgency. They will say they need the money immediately because they’re going to be evicted from their home, they need an emergency operation, or their ‘enemies’ are after them. There are very few financial problems that cannot wait a few hours or even days. Take a step back and think before sending any money or making any decisions. This might be a good time to talk to friends or a financial adviser.
- Do your homework – Many of us know to do a Google search on anyone we meet online. However, it’s important to remember that social media profiles and photos are all easier than ever to fake. If you have any concerns about someone you’re dating, try doing a reverse image search using a few of their photos. You could also try searching their name and the terms ‘dating scam’ or ‘romance fraud.’
- Remember that you are not alone – There has been a dramatic rise in cases of Romance Fraud in recent years. According to Action Fraud, £92 million were lost to Romance Fraud between November 2020 and October 2021. While targets are more commonly older women, Romance Fraud can happen to anyone.
The Tinder Swindler has brought into the spotlight this concerning financial scam in romantic relationships. If you suspect you have been the target of Romance Fraud, seek help from your local police or a qualified solicitor.
At Ison Harrison, our family law solicitors are here to offer expert advice for any difficult situation you may be experiencing; emotionally or physically. Please call us on 0113 284 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org