'Inventing Anna' and 'The Tinder Swindler' on Netflix both narrate real-life stories of people who pose as rich, wealthy individuals to defraud people of their money. Sometimes, this even involves building a certain level of trust with their victims to procure money easily. This becomes more complicated since it not only leads to a financial loss for the victim but also leaves deep emotional scars and feelings of humiliation.
So, how do you see through all the charade and identify a swindler for who they are? What can you do to safeguard yourself from potential phishing situations? I'm no expert when it comes to dating apps and scams, but here's what I learnt from these two shows and it looks like most people are missing some basic points about how to protect themselves.
Here are some common traits swindlers display, how to identify them, and how you can make sure you don’t fall victim to these cons.
1. ALWAYS Assume You’re Paying Your Share
Sure, having rich friends is cool, but if you don’t want a repeat of what happened with Rachel in 'Inventing Anna', always be prepared to pay your share. Don’t go on trips or outings you cannot afford. Simply avoid planning dates that are out of your budget. It’s simple math!
Your friend or date might promise to cover everyone’s share, but make sure you've got yourself covered in case they can't. Take care of this especially if you're in India, since you might end up doing the dishes in a restaurant on a day you thought you'll have the time of your life.
2. Don’t Board a Private Jet With Someone Directly After Your First Date, No Matter How Good It Was
This is a no-brainer. Your first date might be magical, but don't be so gullible as to get on a flight with them. It's not only foolish, but also potentially dangerous. A fancy jet might seem very attractive, but strongly reconsider doing this
3. Stop Taking Out Loans for Your Dates, Just Stop.
If a “rich” friend is in trouble, just accept that there is very little you can do to help them with your very cute little paycheck. Do not take out a loan for someone you met online! I guarantee you, It’s never going to end well. If they ask you for money, just swipe left.
4. All That Glitters Is Not Gold
If someone is going out of their way to show you how rich they are, if they are covered in brands from head to toe and make sure people know about it, there is a small chance it’s all a facade.
If they show up for a walking date wearing all decked up in Gucci shoes and a Prada jacket, there’s a chance they’re overcompensating for something.
They might not be lying, but you need to do your research. Drawing conclusions after one simple Google search is not enough. Always try to dig deeper if you think someone is trying to defraud you.
5. They Probably Don’t Have Enemies That Are Out To Kill Them…
Like we saw in 'The Tinder Swindler', Shimon Hayut told his victims he was a rich diamond heir, and had several enemies who were out to get him, which is why he couldn't access his credit cards and bank accounts.
Dramatic stories like these are fun for sure, but only in the movies. They might tell you about a troubling life event they are going through, feed your ego by making you feel that you have an importance place in their life and that you're helping them out in their hour of need. But lets think about this for a second. Why would someone share such sensitive information with a random stranger they met on a dating app?! These self-serving stories are a HUGE red flag you need to look out for.
6. You Will Seldom See *Actually* Pick up A Check
Their expenses are usually always covered by someone else, and they always have an excuse ready. It’s either an “issue at the bank” (Anna Sorokin’s favourite excuse), or “can you cover this now and I’ll pay you back later?” Don’t fall for these age-old tricks. Your rich date is actually a miser and probably not as rich as they claim. Protect your money at all costs.
7. If They Claim To Be Travelling a Lot, There Might Not Be a Lot of Truth to It
Now, this might be very relative, but if you see someone constantly talk about how they're travelling but there’s very little in the form of proof to support their claim (photos, video chats, etc), you’re probably going to be swindled in the future. Swindlers usually portray a very luxurious lifestyle to attract their victims and build trust. They also use the excuse of their frequent travels to avoid meeting their dates in person. Just say Bon Voyage and move on.
8. Don’t Share Intimate Photos if You’re Even Slightly Skeptical
Even though the two shows do not deal with the culprits leaking intimate pictures, it's a point that still needs to be addressed when it comes to online dating. Sharing pictures on dating apps or with anyone else is something that needs to be done with caution.
Not only can swindlers misuse them, they can also blackmail you for money and threaten you with the help of your personal photos. Share them only with people you absolutely trust.