BY NOW most people are aware of the common scams that are run on dating sites like Tinder, usually involving telltale signs like being sent a suspicious link or being contacted by a profile with no picture or information.
The majority of users know to ignore these glaringly obvious scamming attempts, but there are some profiles that are not so easy to spot.
This is because it isn’t some automated bot messaging you, it is a real person who has worked hard to make their fake profile seem indistinguishable from any other potential date on Tinder.
Brendon McAlpine, an online content removalist who helps victims of image based abuse, told news.com.au that these profiles were carefully created to target their victims.
“These people do their homework. They look into demographics to see what age groups are the ones using apps like Tinder so they can target the right people,” he said.
“They match with someone and then next minute they have exchanged numbers or they are texting each other explicit photos and videos.
“This goes with maybe a day or two of more grooming and then they suddenly say: ‘Hey I want $500 or I am going to post this online’.”
It is a cautionary tale that you have probably heard before, but the reality is that Australians are having their lives turned upside down every day by this type of scam.
One in five Australians have experienced imaged based abuse before, with men and women equally likely to report being a victim, according research from RMIT University.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way out of this blackmailing scam once you are in it and paying the money is likely to just escalate the situation.
“There are hundreds, probably even thousands, of Australians who have gone on to pay this money and they are still getting blackmailed,” Mr McAlpine said.
“What would you do if you if a person sent you money not to release their image? You would keep asking them for more money.”
Mr McAlpine works for Internet Removals, which helps the victims of these types of scams, and advises people who find themselves in these situations to get in contact with them straight away.
“What we then do is monitor google and social media with key search words to see if any of the content goes up. Once it is up then we can contact the platform and get it taken down quickly,” he said.
Tinder does have warnings in place for users, telling them to look out for people using fake profiles in order to extort money from people.
“Never respond to any request to send money, especially overseas or via wire transfer, and report it to us immediately,” their website advises.