Scammers demand a lot of money from their victims on online platforms like Tinder. © Collage by IMAGO/Fotostand/K. Schmitt and IMAGO / Rüdiger Wölk
On dating platforms like Tinder, many users are looking for the love of their lives. Instead, they fall victim to fraudsters: They demand large sums of money – and are also successful in Bavaria.
Munich - "The Tinder Swindler" caused a sensation in 2022 as a Netflix documentary. But his scam has long been copied by fraudsters in Bavaria: According to Justice Minister Georg Eisenreich (CSU), they scammed more than 20 million euros in the Free State alone by pretending to be singles looking for a partner on online dating platforms. Later, they demanded money from their victims – in some cases their entire fortune.
"Often it starts with a romantic match on Tinder," Eisenreich said at a press conference in Munich on Wednesday, May 31. "First, the perpetrators build an emotional bond. Then they persuade their victims to invest in cryptocurrencies on fake websites. In the end, it's all gone – the money and the love."
Tinder swindlers in Bavaria: scam with more than 20 million euros in damage
According to the Minister of Justice, the Central Office Cybercrime Bavaria has already recorded hundreds of complaints. On average, the reported damage per person is around 70,000 euros. But the investigators estimate that there is also a high number of unreported cases: Many victims would be ashamed because they had put their entire assets into supposedly attractive, in reality non-existent investments. The fraudsters speak contemptuously of "pig butchering", on German "slaughter pigs".
Since the Corona pandemic, the so-called Tinder trading scam has been spreading rapidly on the Internet. However, the scam does not only take place on Tinder, but also in other dating sites and social networks. Similar to modern marriage fraud, the perpetrators first send flirting messages to their potential victims, thus building closeness and trust. After that, however, unlike the "Love Scam", they do not feign any money problems. Instead, they persuade their victims to make fictitious investments such as stocks and cryptocurrencies.
In some cases, victims lose their entire fortune – trail leads to Asia
The vast majority of the victims are male, even though many women are contacted by the perpetrators via social networks. In 2023 alone, two victims each invested more than one million euros in the fake offers. "In some cases, the perpetrators even drive the injured parties to suicide," says Eisenreich. Two of the victims had taken their own lives out of desperation. Others developed depression and anxiety.
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In the search for the perpetrators, the trail often leads to Asia. Of the complaints received by the CCB since 2021, 260 of them can be traced back to China, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. In 2023, this already affected 55 advertisements. The backers would operate veritable "fraud factories" in Southeast Asia, for example in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. Accordingly, it is difficult to succeed with the investigations – especially since the perpetrators often falsify their identities.
Questioning Internet contacts
Eisenreich advises to always critically check Internet contacts: "especially if the person wants to switch quickly from the dating portal to messenger services after the initial contact and is never available for a personal meeting or a video call." If someone even demands payments or investments in cryptocurrencies, this is even more suspicious. First, the perpetrators deceived supposedly high profits and would ask for ever larger sums. However, if the victims demand their money back, the contact is broken. (elb/dpa)
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