Joanne In The DMs: A Tale Of Romance Fraud
With winter (aka cuffing season) and Valentine’s Day, it’s the season for love. Maybe that means love is on the mind so you’re searching for bae. Maybe it’s time to trade your cuffing season draft pick. Maybe you just want to add to the roster. Whatever reason has you searching, if online apps are your go-to, be cautious. Romance fraud is real, y’all.
I first realized there was a name for the phenomena when I read an article on Yahoo about a man who gave $15,000 to a person he had been talking to on a dating app. (I hope he wrote that charitable donation off on his taxes so he got something out of it other than debt and a broken heart.) The concept of scamming another person through a dating app wasn’t new to me, though. Aside from there being a whole TV show about romance fraud (that, admittedly, I haven’t seen), I was once almost selected to be on a jury for a criminal case where three defendants were accused of defrauding women on Tinder.
Romance fraud wasn’t foremost on my mind when I joined a couple new apps after a much-needed online dating break. On one of the apps, I matched with a cute guy who claimed to be a widowed single father looking for a serious relationship. We seemed to have common interests, so I was excited to meet him. We were texting for a couple weeks before things went left. We were supposed to meet, but he said he had to cancel for work. The next week he had to go abroad for that same deal.
After about a week of him allegedly being in the Ukraine and messaging me on Instagram, he said he was having issues with his app development project and needed my help. I wondered how I could possibly help him. He didn’t initially tell me what kind of help was needed, but it eventually came out that he needed a $500 Amazon card paid for in cash because the ones he’d used that were purchased with debit cards didn’t work.
Now, anyone who knows me knows one thing I don’t play about is my money. This man was trying to live his best Caucasian life on my dime. No sir!
So, I told him I couldn’t help him. He kept asking, and I kept saying no. Then he got mad. That didn’t stop him from continuing to message me over time, sometimes making small talk, sometimes asking again. Finally, I gave him a list of reasons why his request was stupid, blocked him, and reported him to the app.
Another match from that same app tried a similar thing. This one was supposedly in the military. Among other suspect things, he kept sending me photos that didn’t seem like they were taken in my city. Sure, people travel, but his answer to “what are you doing today” was a picture of washing his car in the sun...except there hadn’t been a sunny day for about a week. I was curious to see what he would ask for and kept responding to his messages even though I knew he was a scammer. He had an entertaining story. See, he got a promotion at his job. That meant Trump had to send him to Russia. He even sent a photo of himself with Cheeto 45. Then a photo of a plane on the runway. When he got to Russia, he realized that there were things they didn’t provide for him. Like an iTunes card. Could I send him a $50 one?
He got the same treatment as the first one. Block. Report. (There were two more possible attempts, but I was no longer amused. I didn’t let them get far before shutting them down. I also deleted that app because apparently its location settings are janky.)
Scammers are out doing what they do best. If Joanne tries to slide in your DMs, here are some signs to watch out for so you don’t get scammed out of your hard-earned coins:
The person makes excuses not to meet (it’s not dating if you don’t go out on dates)
The person calls at odd times, like only during the workday or late at night
The person wants to communicate only through a non-text app (like Google Hangouts, Kik, IG)
The person sends unrequested photos to back up their story
The person claims to be falling in love with you before you’ve met or had a phone conversation
If you get any of these approaches, sis, run! Run faster than Smokey ran from Debo. Faster than Ricky ran from the bullet (but with more success, I hope).
Have you experienced someone trying to scam you through a dating app? Share your story below!