In Brazil, Tinder is a dangerous place for men

Precisely because they are less accustomed to suspecting strangers online, more and more are tempted and then kidnapped until they pay a ransom.

According to the Brazilian police, in 2022 90 percent of the kidnappings in Sao Paulo, one of Brazil’s major cities, were carried out by luring people with fake profiles on dating apps like Tinder. This is just one of the different ways in which these apps have been used for several years in Brazil to identify easy victims: in addition to kidnappings, robberies and scams against people seduced online, they have also increased dramatically, so much so that the police have become publicly sharing tips on how to prevent From “Tinder Crimes”.

In most cases, the victims are men between the ages of 30 and 65 who are contacted by profiles posing as very beautiful and much younger women. Men deceived in this way are held hostage and only released after paying large sums of money to the kidnappers. Many of the victims are heterosexual men, often never having to fear for their safety online, and thus less accustomed to suspecting that people they meet on dating apps may have ill intentions.

One of the most important police tips is to thoroughly check the identity of the person you intend to date before sending gifts or setting up a date in a place you don’t know well, and be wary of anyone who asks almost immediately after you start dating. Talk on the app.

According to Brazilian journalists Matheus Andrade and Nicole Froyo The phenomenon has increased with the spread of an instant payment method called PIX, which is used by 67 percent of Brazilians and allows large sums of money to be deposited very quickly by scanning a QR code. “For many Brazilians, the popular PIX app is a fast and efficient way to pay. It is precisely this efficiency and ease of use that has made it the ideal tool for this type of fraud,” said cybersecurity researcher Fabio Assolini.

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“Although the Central Bank of Brazil categorically states that every transaction is fully traceable, the authorities still need more supporting evidence, such as surveillance camera footage, to be able to confirm that a particular transaction was the result of coercion. That is why it does not insist Tinder scammers not only meet potential victims in secluded, quiet areas, but also take extra precautions, such as using bank accounts that aren’t theirs, to distribute money quickly and make it more difficult to trace.

According to the Sao Paulo police, last year there were 94 cases of “Tinder kidnapping” in the city alone, committed by criminals who “monitor users who boast of having a lot of money on social networks and arrange a meeting with them on deserted streets”. If the potential victim offers to meet in a public place, such as a park or mall, the criminals make excuses that they cannot leave the house. In November, for example, a doctor was kidnapped and held hostage for 14 hours after he went on a Tinder date.

However, the Brazilian authorities believe that the cases could be much more than those reported, because many victims are ashamed of being so easily deceived and do not tell anyone what happened to them. Then there are those who use apps like Tinder without their partner or family knowing, and therefore don’t report the reason.

He wondered about the phenomenon before BBC , A Tinder spokesperson said the company “takes the safety of its users very seriously” and “regularly gives them safety advice to make sure everyone can flirt freely on the app and feel safe”. He added, “Over the past few years, we have rolled out a number of safety features to help members confirm that they are speaking with the person they see in their profile photos before meeting them in real life.”

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Harold Manning

"Infuriatingly humble social media ninja. Devoted travel junkie. Student. Avid internet lover."

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