Dating App dangers, rising scams and thefts on Tinder and Grindr

Published Jun 27, 2024


Dating apps have now turned into hazardous spaces filled with scammers, swindlers, and criminals. Apps like Tinder, Badoo, and Grindr are no longer safe havens for people to connect, socialise, and form relationships.

Tinder is widely known as one of the best dating apps, but many users do not talk about its dark side. Former users allege that the app is rife with fake profiles, with people arranging meet ups to steal belongings.

Refilwe Molapo, a student in Pretoria, shared her bad experience with a Tinder meet up. “I went on a date with a guy I met on Tinder. He looked exactly like his pictures, so I didn’t think he was catfishing me.

“After we finished eating at a restaurant, he said he needed to charge his phone at the checkout. Then he asked to use my phone, claiming he had sent a cash send via WhatsApp and needed to withdraw it to pay the bill,” said Molapo.

“I trusted him and gave him my phone. He disappeared and never came back. That’s when I realised I had been scammed. My phone was gone, and I was left with the bill to pay,” Molapo recounted.

According to Molapo, the restaurant had experienced similar incidents before hers.

Tinder swindlers and scammers seem to be a global issue, as depicted in the documentary “The Tinder Swindler”.

The film tells the story of Israeli conman Simon Leviev (born Shimon Hayut), who used Tinder to connect with individuals, emotionally manipulating them into financially supporting his lavish lifestyle under the pretext of needing money to escape his “enemies”.

Grindr is also considered dangerous, particularly for the LGBTQIA+ community, specifically gay men.

There have been numerous cases of victims being abducted via Grindr by gangs demanding ransom from the victims’ families, with threats of harm or death if the family does not comply.

Last year, a Wits student was lured by kidnappers via Grindr and was found bound and unconscious at a men’s hostel. Seven suspects were arrested for kidnapping the student.

A TikTok user named Tshepi TM shared a chilling account that has resonated deeply within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Tshepi TM recounted travelling from Midrand to Johannesburg in 2022 for a hookup arranged with an unknown individual who refused to share photos — a red flag.

Despite his initial concerns, Tshepi TM proceeded with the meet up, only to find himself at a disturbingly sketchy location.

“Two individuals approached and forcibly removed me from the car,” Tshepi TM explained in his TikTok video.

“The situation escalated to physical violence, leaving me in a state of shock as they robbed me of all my belongings, including my ID.”

His captors then contacted his family, demanding R20,000 for his safe release.

He said it took him a long time to heal from the ordeal, even contemplating taking his own life.

The dangers of using Grindr have been a growing concern within the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly among gay men.

Many individuals have shared their experiences or have heard about incidents involving scams and violence allegedly through various platforms like TikTok, prompting widespread awareness efforts to caution others about these risks.

These incidents leave victims feeling violated, traumatised, and deeply mistrustful.

The psychological impact can be severe, leading to anxiety, depression, and a reluctance to engage in future relationships. The emotional scars from such betrayals are often long-lasting and can significantly disrupt the victims’ lives.

Dating apps, initially designed to bring people together, have become platforms where unsuspecting users fall prey to criminals.

This alarming trend underscores the urgent need for stronger user protections and awareness of the potential dangers lurking on these platforms.