“The Tinder Swindler”: Catching false kindness

Courtesy of Unsplash | In 2018, over 18,000 reported being American victims of romance fraud.

by Mia Lubrani | staff columnist

Feb. 17, 2022

With Valentine’s day, spring break and continuation of Covid-19, Tinder is predicted to grow in its popularity over the next few months, according to AdWeek. 

Tinder serves as a fantasy for true love. In reality, the app acts more as a breeding ground for fake kindness, unsafe meetups and hookup culture. Dating apps show pictures of other people, incentivizing lies about their appearance and lifestyle to better attract their preferred person. 

Tinder may offer a real possibility for love, but with the increase in lies, crimes and society superficiality it may be time to spread awareness about dating safety. 

Bad people lie out there, and they can manipulate these apps to help them use others to get money, fame or affection. Dating apps are ruining the atmosphere of romance in the 21st century and normalizing a culture that will only hurt people in the long run.

“The Tinder Swindler” is a new Netflix documentary based on a true story of a man catfishing a sequence of women through the popular dating app. The man, Simon Leviev, acted as a rich son of an international billionaire to lure women into seemingly exciting relationships that would be short lived. 

The documentary focused on three victims that helped to spread awareness and put Leviev in jail. Leviev would date each woman, then proceed to act like his life was in danger, until the women would take out credit cards to lend him money for safety.

Some criticize the victims for being naive, but they were lured into an atmosphere of luxury only to be psychologically abused for months. From love texts begging for money, to audio messages screaming when the victim would get suspicious, Leviev hurt hundreds of women, while spending their funds on jets and bottle service for his newest target.

With nearly $10 million cheated out of his girlfriends over the years, Leviev’s story was put to a just end and the victims succeeded in spreading awareness of dating caution. Leviev went to jail in his home country, for only four counts of fraud, and was unfortunately let out after only five months.

This documentary is one of thousands of instances of deception through online dating portals.

Business of Apps reports 2021 as Tinder’s highest revenue year thus far, with over $439 billion. Although economic growth and more love found is positive, the increasingly popular online platform can allow for more deception, lying, ghosting and safety hazards. 

Catfishing is a serious problem that grows with online dating connections becoming more popular. 

In 2018, over 18,000 Americans reported being victims of romance fraud according to BestVPN.org. Review 42 found in 2020, over $304 million were lost and 64% of catfishers were women. Also alarming is that 53% of users in America lie on their profiles and 51% are actually in a relationship although posing as single.

Just a small amount of research proves that online dating is not as safe and useful as creators claim it to be. It is important to become educated before it is too late. Love is easy to be blinded by, but tips and caution will help genuine users to protect themselves. 

Online love can turn users into makeshift FBI agents, but it seems to me that’s what is necessary in today’s world of catfishers. 

First, try to use a reverse image search. Reverse image searching takes the given photo and finds where else it is used. While this is a great first step, it is not the only.

Next, be cautious if someone is obsessive or overwhelmingly kind too fast. Catfishers often use bold claims of love too early to lure someone into a fantasy. Make sure to check if the person is legitimate.

Facetime or video calling is extremely easy and accessible, so online daters should use this method for checking authenticity. If your potential significant other doesn’t ever want to Facetime, then this could be a sign they are a catfish. 

Lastly, remember to trust your gut and choose kindness. If someone seems inauthentic or seems to flaunt a dramatic lifestyle, investigate it further to calm any doubts. Always make sure to communicate with the other to establish a shared intention for the relationship. 

Love is able to be found, and it is waiting for everyone at the right time. Online dating increases hazards but it can also be used to increase your scope to hopefully find that special someone Protecting yourself mentally and physically is always the main priority. Relationships are meant to increase happiness, not decrease your bank account.