Online dating scams are becoming increasingly popular around the world, especially in South Africa

SHE threatened to splash his penis across the internet. But Brett Rogers didn't care.
The local presenter of popular reality TV show Food, Booze, and Tattoos was just a week into chatting to an attractive woman he met on popular dating website Tinder when she threatened him with blackmail.

The woman demanded that he transfer a sum of money into her e-wallet account or else she would leak his nude photos all across the internet. “To be honest, I was a little nervous from the beginning when I had started speaking to her.

“She was a beautiful woman but I was very sceptical. She only had two pictures and no Tinder biography,” said Rogers.

“Within five minutes of first chatting to her, she already asked me for pictures of myself. Shortly after that, she asked me for some money for some data so that we could chat on WhatsApp. But I told her that I hardly knew her, and that there was no way that I was going to give a stranger money.”

After getting to know his Tinder match for a few days, Rogers and the woman began sharing nude pictures. “She had insisted that we start chatting on BBM because it would be much easier and so I downloaded the app.

“We spoke about our families, our work, and we learnt a lot about one another.”

A day after exchanging nudes, Rogers received a message on BBM from the woman insisting that he transfer money into her e-wallet account or else all his nude pictures would be plastered across social media and the rest of the internet.

“I told her ‘cool, do whatever you want.’ I wasn’t too fazed about it. My mother has seen my penis before. I really couldn't give a damn if my friends saw my nudes. I know they all do nudes. We all know everyone does nudes, so I didn't really care.”

After refusing to pay the money, all of Roger's conversations with the woman were deleted.

“She deleted her Tinder profile and there was no trace of her at all. I haven't even seen any of my nudes surface as yet, but if they do I won’t be too angry about it.”

Rogers, who lives in Cape Town, is one of many online daters who have fallen prey to online dating scams, which are becoming increasingly popular around the world and locally on applications such as Tinder.

Katie Duncan*, a social media manager, was also scammed on Tinder. After getting to know a man on Tinder for a number of weeks and building a trusting friendship with him, Duncan was asked for money to be deposited into the man's account.

She almost obliged. But after doing some research on him, and realising he was a scammer, Duncan reported the man to authorities.

“I’m a social media manager! I should have spotted this a mile away,” she said.

“We have this idea that scams only happen to naive, uneducated people who are preyed on by evil online perpetrators. But this is not always the case.”

Candice Sutherland, a cyber-insurance underwriter at iToo Special Risks, said users were particularly vulnerable on online dating websites.

“There is a false sense of safety because you're removed from physical interaction, people feel brave and can easily be persuaded to have risqué conversations or send pictures shortly after the interaction starts because of the false sense of anonymity.

“There is so much pressure to stand out in a pile of pictures in order to get the right swipe, but don't compromise your integrity to do this.”

Sutherland added that there were a number of risks associated with using online dating apps such as Tinder.

“You can fall victim to cat fishing.

This is when someone creates a fake online profile to blackmail, defame, extort, spy on or scam you - this stems from a desire for revenge or humiliation, or just plain boredom.

“Then there is also digital harassment, which includes revenge porn, slut-shaming and the sexual surveillance of someone.”

Fake profiles are also rife.

“It takes a few seconds to set up a fake profile, add a picture and the scamming can begin - some fake profiles are genuine human beings and some are bots (an application that performs an automated task).”

Be aware of the risks.

“Remember that these scammers are professional online daters. They say all the right things and know how to play on your emotions.

“Do not give out personal details like your home address, where you work or your phone number until you have established a level of trust. Speak on the phone prior to meeting - one phone call can reveal a lot.”

Sutherland added that if at any point you get asked for money, you should end the conversation immediately. Similarly, do not send racy or compromising pictures and texts which can be used to blackmail you later.”

* Not her real name

The Saturday Star