Match Group is swiping left on romance scammers across its expansive portfolio of dating apps, including Tinder, Hinge, Match, Plenty of Fish, Meetic and OurTime.
The Dallas-based company’s 16.5 million paid subscribers began receiving messages Tuesday alerting them to safe dating tips and common behaviors that can signal potential scams. The messages come from law enforcement and financial exploitation experts.
“People are really driving to online spaces to connect, whether it’s on a dating service or whether it’s on an online platform in general … scammers are extremely sophisticated,” said Buddy Loomis, senior director of law enforcement operations and investigations at Match Group.
“They change and evolve their tactics and techniques,” said Loomis, who worked in law enforcement for close to 14 years before joining Match Group.
Romance scams reported in the U.S. result in higher losses than any other type of scam and totaled over $300 million each year since 2020, according to the Federal Trade Commission. In 2022, data from the Global Anti-Scam Organization shows that the average reported loss was over $190,000, up from $120,000 in 2021.
Texas is a bit of a hotbed for romance scams and other dangerous situations arising from online dating sites.
In the Houston suburb of Spring, a 21-year-old man held a woman he met on Bumble captive and tortured her for five days beginning Christmas Eve. The man is accused of starving and physically and sexually assaulting the woman.
Last year, a Carrollton woman was scammed out of $200,000 of cryptocurrency after meeting a man on Hinge. He “love-bombed” her, an affectionate yet abusive way of influencing someone in a relationship, while encouraging her to invest in a different cryptocurrency exchange site. The site was eventually shut down and she had no way of retrieving her lost money.
Match Group is launching its campaign across 15 countries. Some of its apps have selfie verification, where users take a photo of themselves and submit it so Match can check that it’s the same as their profile photos.
From Match’s perspective, scammers play the long game, she said. They’ll get to know people, make connections with people about different life experiences and continue the conversation.
“They’re not necessarily saying ‘Hey, send me money right now,’ but they are saying ‘Let’s talk, I want to get to know you, want to get to know who you are,’” Loomis said.
The FBI has an Internet Crime Complaint Center where victims can report romance scams. There are also tips on how to avoid romance scams on the FBI’s website.
Loomis said romance scams are “wildly underreported.” She wants Match Group users to speak up.
“We want to be a safe place for our members to report and remove that stigma,” she said.