Are restaurants using dating apps to scam women? | #lovescams | #datingapps

Have you ever met someone, gone out to dinner with him/her and couldn’t wait for the ordeal to be over because the person in front of you has lots of orange duck bits between their teeth when they spit or won’t stop talking in an annoying tone of voice about how perfect their ex was and how their mum is the only one who cooks lasagne? These are just a few clichés of romantic dates that prove potentially disastrous in the first few minutes together. The new frontier of forgettable dates may not top the strange tale of the stolen tabi, but it does discourage those in search of a soul mate, or at least some quality time with a potential mate.

Welcome to the era of restaurants attracting partners/customers on dating apps

If it were an episode of a TV series, it would be titled “I thought I had a hot date, but I got catfished by a restaurant instead”. That’s right, because a new negative trend is emerging on social media where some restaurants are pretending to be attractive dating app users and arranging romantic dinners to which no one shows up unless the person being cheated on shows up. The reason for this? They’re exploiting the universal and basic search for love and situationships as a sneaky ploy to convince people to eat at their establishments.

Testimonials on TikTok

“I met this guy on a dating app and he immediately asked me out on a date to a specific restaurant,” @paretay begins her story and uses her misadventure to warn other TikTok users, because what happened to her could have happened to anyone. She found a man she thought was interesting on a dating app. The two wrote to each other and immediately arranged a first date for the same day at a restaurant he had chosen. She arrived hopeful and fully clothed, but no sign of her partner. She must have thought he was just running late, but as the minutes ticked by, she thought she had been stood up because “he was nowhere to be found” and wasn’t responding to the messages she had sent him about his whereabouts. To make sure, she even checked the app and realised that he hadn’t matched her. By now she had gone out, got dressed and made up and figured she could at least stay at the table and have dinner. The further snub came later, when she was already at home. Scrolling through Facebook, she discovered that another woman who had been to the same restaurant had had a similar experience to hers. That’s when @paretay realised he was the victim of a restaurant marketing campaign where it created fake Tinder profiles, referred people, met them at the restaurant and then unfollowed them to increase its customer count. “I’ve found out that there are restaurants now posing as people on dating apps just so you go to their business and once you get stood up, they know that probably nine times out of ten that you’re going to buy something from them. And that just blew my mind,” explains the creator when talking about her recent dating experience.

The phenomenon of food diggers

As @nosybystanders points out on TikTok, @paretay’s bad adventure is not an isolated incident, but a trend that is growing in popularity and even has a name: Food Digging. “It’s not new. It’s actually a phenomenon and it was first found out that it was recurring in India or the Delhi area,” explains Nosy. “And this guy by the name of Archit Gupta…had posted this storytime on Twitter, literally just like a week ago, and basically said that he had got stood up at this restaurant by this ‘girl’ which he believes is a bot and he ended up paying”. Originally, the term “food digger” referred to a person who searched for a date on dating websites only to get a free meal at a restaurant they wanted to try, driven by appetite or the desire to try a lobster without having to pay for it, and not because they were interested in the person they wanted to spend their time with. By 2023, the concept of food diggers had expanded, describing a new phenomenon of scam marketing that had left India’s borders and spread to the US and perhaps everywhere else. Early reports spoke of women or men luring unfortunate people into a restaurant under the pretence of a date and then walking away on a pretext, leaving the person alone at the table with the bill. Probably in return for some kind of commission for recruiting customers. Now it’s not even necessary for a real person to pretend to be interested in having dinner together. Restaurants that use this scam rely on bots in dating apps, have the person they have arranged to meet turn up at the restaurant and rely on that person to have a drink or a meal once they are in the restaurant, thereby increasing their business.

Is this the ultimate end of dating apps?

Not only is food digging a new level of advertising and marketing for restaurants, a scam and a humiliating event for those who fall victim to it and lack strong self-esteem, it could be the ultimate sign that dating apps may no longer be the best option for meeting people and potential partners. Stealing designer shoes, ghosting, personalities with red flags or simply a lack of chemistry weren’t enough. Now we even have to find ourselves alone in a restaurant that we otherwise wouldn’t have set foot in. And all this just to increase the economic revenue of a sushi or pizzeria. Meeting new people and coming out is always a risk, and there are dating apps that try to protect their members as much as possible, especially women, but everything has its limits. It’s a shame to lose trust or not use a potentially useful tool just for business reasons. If only it were easier to get to know and approach the people we like the old-fashioned way… In the meantime, we toss the coin in the air, virtual or live, and hope that our date doesn’t turn out to be a nightmare for our wallets too.









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