New Delhi: I am an NCR-based 25-year-old journalist, just “scammed” by someone I met two days ago on a dating app. You know my name (check the byline), and if you follow social media and ‘trending stories’, may have read about my story also. Yes, I am the same “25-year-old man” who was “duped by dating app match”, who had a pay a big fat bill “after Bumble meetup turned out to be a scam”, and who is now telling around people how “Delhi cafes are hiring girls to scam”, as various media reports have told you so far.
So, what was the real story? Hear from the horse’s mouth the tale of failed romance, deception, and an unexpectedly pricey dinner.
In a plot twist worthy of a Bollywood drama, my quest for love on a dating app led me to a scam that left me over Rs 15,000 poorer and cost my dignity. But yes, at least I got my 15 minutes of fame, thanks to my tweets that went viral in no time, my quotes featuring in news reports, and the steady flow of requests to appear on video and radio shows — I’m practically a celebrity now, albeit for reasons I am not so proud of.
So, here’s the scoop.
‘Something Meaningful’ To Downright Shameful
I met a girl named “Divya” (not her real name, of course) on Bumble two days before our now famous “meet-up”. We had been talking for the last two days. I had asked her what she was looking for. And she had said: “Something meaningful” — music to the ears of a man whose social life is as vibrant as a monochrome painting. Needless to say, I got interested in her.
After talking for two days, she insisted on meeting. “Baith kar aram se baat karte hain (Let’s sit somewhere and talk at leisure),” she said. I asked her again if she was really looking for something serious. She replied in the affirmative, and insisted that we meet at Rajouri Garden. She sounded eager, which should have been a red flag. But I wasn’t suspicious yet. Did she try to manipulate? She did not have to try hard, I am sure.
I took the Metro and reached Rajouri Garden around 9 pm. She insisted we sat at a particular place — the oh-so-classy ‘Race Bar & Lounge’. Picture it: dim lights, the scent of hookah in the air, and me, clueless about the financial tsunami about to hit.
We took a table, and I went to the washroom. Upon returning, I saw she had already gone full gourmet — a hookah, three glasses of wine and a plate of chicken tikka. She asked me what I would like to have. I ordered a non-alcoholic energy drink.
As we waited for our order, we talked, and she told me she was looking for a “loyal person”. Things were going well, until she suddenly realised it was “late” and said her brother was coming to pick her up. I asked the server to bring the cheque.
And Bam! The bill arrived, flaunting a grand total of Rs 15,886.
I was shocked, definitely, but paid the bill nevertheless, by card, and went to the washroom again. When I came back, the bill wasn’t there. And she was in a tearing hurry to leave.
I returned home confused. But things got clear soon as she was no longer available on call. She was gone, leaving me with a lighter bank account and a dawning realisation — I had been scammed.
I Am Not The Only One
Turns out, I am not the only lovestruck victim to have got fooled like this. This ‘scam’ is a regular feature not only in Delhi and NCR but many other parts of India too — and I learnt this better after I tweeted about my experience.
In Delhi, this is common in the city’s bar scene, with such incidents taking place in Preet Vihar, Mayur Vihar and Karkardooma too, besides of course, Rajouri Garden. Several ‘victims’ like me shared their sob stories with me, and let me tell you, it sounded like a broken record of dashed hopes and empty wallets.
I learnt many cases are not reported because men feel embarrassed about how people will react to it. Some of the ‘victims’ told me that they were even threatened by the bouncers present in the bars to pay up.
More than a scam, it looks like an organised crime to me. I did go to the police too. They treated me well at the station, and lodged a complaint. But there has been no FIR yet.
The real question is: Who is behind this, and what are the police doing to stop this? Does this come under cyber crime? There is some ambiguity there too. I read one woman was arrested by the Gurgaon police after she allegedly cheated and robbed ten men in a similar way.
But then every cloud has a silver lining. I’ve become, albeit accidentally, somewhat of an expert on dating scams. So, here’s my sage advice: Steer clear of dating apps if you are looking for something serious. If you do brave the app world, meet in public, split the bill (it’s not uncool, trust me), and treat overly eager dates as red flags.
In summary, my story has turned into a crash course on Scamming 101. While some sympathised with me, others couldn’t stop laughing at my gullibility. But I’ve learnt my lesson. I can now add ‘Viral Scam Victim’ to my resume. Stay safe out there, and remember, if your date orders more than you can afford, run!