Dating Apps Crack Down on Romance Scammers


When it comes to fraud, it pays to be skeptical. Whether it’s a banking app or a dating app, Michael Steinbach, the head of global fraud detection at Citi and the former executive assistant director of the FBI’s National Security Branch, advises consumers to “Don’t take the call, make the call” and to keep conversations on-platform until trust has been established. In this blog post, we’ll explore the transition from “high-volume card thefts” to “more sophisticated social engineering”, how dating apps have responded to the uptick in scams, and the tension between privacy and safety for the LGBTQ community. Read on to learn more about how to protect yourself from fraud.

Transition from High-Volume Card Thefts to Social Engineering

Gone are the days of high-volume card thefts, where fraudsters would quickly obtain as much information as possible. Now, scammers are more likely to spend time conducting surveillance in order to gain the trust and confidence of their victims. This “social engineering” can be more rewarding for fraudsters, and consumers should approach interactions with a healthy amount of skepticism.

Dating App Responses to Scams

In response to the increase in scams, dating app companies have rolled out manual and AI-powered tools to spot a potential problem. Some apps use photo or video verification features that encourage users to capture images of themselves directly within the app. These are then run through machine-learning tools to try to determine the validity of the account. Additionally, apps like Grindr use machine learning to process metadata at the point of sign-up, rely on SMS phone verification, and try to spot patterns of people using the app to send messages more quickly than a real human might.

Tension Between Privacy and Safety

For an app like Grindr, which serves predominantly men in the LGBTQ community, the tension between privacy and safety is greater than it might be on other apps. Grindr does not require a face photo of every person on their public profile because many people don’t feel comfortable having a photo of themselves publicly associated with an LGBTQ app. Additionally, Grindr encourages people to use video chat within the app itself as a way to avoid catfishing or pig-butchering scams.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, AI will only do so much when it comes to fraud prevention. Humans are both the scammers and the weak link on the other side of the scam. So, it’s important to be situationally aware and to not rely on the tool itself. To protect yourself from fraud, approach interactions with skepticism, keep conversations on-platform until trust has been established, and use video chat within the app itself to avoid catfishing or pig-butchering scams.

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