Dating App Con Artists Swindled Americans out of $547M in 2021
Feb 12, 2022
By Kerry J. Byrne
These jerks steal your heart – and everything else you own.
A shocking number of Americans will spend Valentine’s Day not only broken-hearted — but dead broke — after being swindled by digital-dating deceivers.
The lovelorn were grifted out of $547 million by dating-app scammers last year, a shocking 78% increase over the previous record $307 million in losses in 2020, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The number of reported cases climbed from 33,000 to 56,000, or 70%, over the same year.
The heartbreaking trend has defrauded hundreds of thousands of Americans out of more than $1.3 billion over the past five years.
Victim-turned-activist Rebecca D’Antonio, speaking this week on “Banfield” on NewsNation, said the con is now bigger than bank fraud.
The Florida woman was swindled out of $100,000 by a loathsome Lothario she met on OkCupid who purported to be a widowed father and oil-industry contractor from Australia.
“They know what to say to disarm you. They know what to say to make you feel valued,” said D’Antonio, who was forced into bankruptcy by the ordeal. “This is their bread and butter. So they’re very practiced at it.”
She finally realized the con was on and confronted “Matthew,” telling him that his scam had driven her to contemplate suicide.
“Well, you have to do what you have to do,” was his heartless response.
The con’s skyrocketing growth has sparked warnings from federal agencies and watchdog groups, including the FTC, FBI and Better Business Bureau, along with the release of a new Netflix documentary exploring the phenomenon, “The Tinder Swindler.”
Seducers often display certain hallmarks, the feds warn, typically claiming to work overseas in the military, as a selfless doctor serving with an international organization or, as Matthew claimed, in the oil industry.
Matthew, it turns out, was a front for a criminal gang out of Nigeria, D’Antonio said.
“The scammers strike up a relationship with their targets to build their trust, sometimes talking or chatting several times a day. Then, they make up a story and ask for money,” the FTC warned.
“The Tinder Swindler” (Link): details the career of prolific dating-app con-man Shimon Hayut, often known as Simon Leviev.