Have you ever matched with someone on Tinder and felt things were going really well, sometimes just a bit too well? You, or you new match suggest a face to face meeting, but before you both agree on a time and place there is just one caveat, they want to ensure their safety, a perfectly reasonable request when it comes to meeting someone IRL that you met online. But how are you going to achieve this? How are you going to prove you are a normal, genuine person and not some kind of serial killer?
Simple, you just need to verify yourself, similar to getting a blue tick on Instagram, this all seems pretty reasonable and acceptable. They send you a link to a website where you just need to go through some verification process to prove you are who you say you are, just for a small fee. It’s similar to a new feature Tinder and Bumble are rolling out to help stop catfishing.
Except it’s all a scam.
Well, we say scam, but it’s more of a deception. The true definition of a scam is where you are asked to give something (usually money) and are promised something in returned which you never receive or is significantly different from what was promised. This Tinder verification scam works by getting you to pay for the verification process, which you do get, the validity of this ‘verification’ is questionable though. The scam part could be considered the promise of a date after you have paid for the verification, because the potential date is probably just a computer program or ‘bot’. But try taking someone to court over a breach of a social contract regarding the date, especially when it was a computer program, probably located on a server in country you have never heard of before. And since you were only paying for the verification, which you did receive, it is difficult to claim in law that you were actually the victim of a traditional scam.
This Tinder scam, or deception is really just a modern-day reincarnation of an old trick where a prospective renter or buyer needs to be ‘vetted’ in some respect first before renting an apartment or buying a car. The seller will send them a link to a site where they can go thought some kind of vetting or credit checking process. Except there is no apartment or car. The ‘seller’ is simply making a commission everytime someone uses one of these ‘vetting’ services, which may be perfectly legitimate.
The Tinder ‘Verification’ dating scam is very similar. The potential date sends a link to a verification site, for which he or she earns a commission for each customer sent to the site. The legitimacy of these new dating verification sites is not so clear. Some use ambiguous terminology like ‘safe dating verification site’ and ‘Tinder safe dating’ have names like ‘Tinderbed.com’, 'safemeetscan.com, and ‘datemeverify.com’ although these domains have now been abandoned or just redirect to adult sites. Other terms and phrases to watch out for are things like ‘datesafecodes’, ‘tindersystem’, and ‘tinder safe code’.
Like many scams it uses a combination of fiction, fact, and psychology.
Tinder does have a verification process which gives you a blue tick similar to Instagram and Twitter makes it equally confusing and seemingly legitimate at the same time. And Tinder does send out a ‘verification code’, but this is just to confirm your mobile number and to prevent the creation of multiple accounts, ironically to prevent spam on the App.
Spammers and scammers are acutely aware that most seasoned online dating site users are aware of their presence on such platforms and, combined with the fierce competition for matches (especially amongst men) being ‘verified’ on a dating site or social media platform instantly gives the user the upper hand and therefore they are more likely to gain credibility and matches and fall for this scam.
We have also seen variation on this scam related to physical meetings where you need to pay some kind of fee for a ‘tinder meeting code’, this again is part fact and part fiction. Tinder DOES offer a security feature called Noonlight, which is a third-party kind of virtual buddy/plus one for when you go on a date with a Tinder match (USA only). All very confusing, I know.
Due to the dynamics of online dating this particular scam is usually perpetrated towards men by ‘women’, the woman (usually an attractive female) is most likely a chat bot, an automated computer program which many legitimate businesses use instead of human customer service representatives to answer common queries is repurposed for far more nefarious actions.
But instead of using AI to answer common questions about a company’s returns policy, your most recent Tinder ‘match’ will engage you in generalised, nondescriptive conversation and will probably be eager to move the chat off Tinder. This is for a few reasons, firstly, once they have your phone number/WhatsApp, Skype Kik, Insta or Snapchat contact details then they can easily send you messages after you have blocked them on Tinder or they have had their account closed banned. Secondly, Tinder does catch on to these scams pretty quickly and will prevent spammy links being sent through its messaging system, this could be a matter of hours or days if the bot is sending out hundreds or thousands of messages a day.
Once they ‘hook’ you its time for the ‘I need you to get verified before we meet on this website’ message and link to be sent. The links vary and we have given some examples of the ones we have seen, but to be honest they change so often or use link shorteners it’s probably pretty futile trying to remember them.
If you do click on the link you will be taken to a website like Tinderbed.com to get ‘verified’, now, as we mentioned before, some of these sites might actually be perfectly legitimate sites and are unaware that scammers are using Tinder and this ‘method’ to promote them and earn themselves commission on sales. But it is equally likely that the ‘Verification Badge’ that you receive will be as worthless as that PhD you earned after completing a two-hour online course and paid $19.99.
Whatever the outcome we can almost guarantee two things.
Stay Safe Out There