While still on the dating apps, one message that popped up in my DMs really stands out as a succinct summary of the whole online dating experience.
Behold, the ultimate pickup line:
“Do you want to go with me for a good time or a bad time?”
Where exactly we would be going was never specified. A ‘bad time’ seemed inevitable, but at least he covered his bases.
While absurd, this line really does sum up what it’s like to navigate a dating app. There’s really no in-between. Either it’s a fun night, or, more likely, a terrible one that will later be memorialised on a Reddit thread about bad Tinder experiences.
Sometimes, this is because dating apps, when they aren’t selling your personal data to third-party advertisers, are prime lurking spots for scammers.
But, you knew this – we’ve all seen Catfish.
One catfish, however, got more than he bargained for when he tried to scam Cape Town local Jessica Carver on OKCupid (OKC).
W24 with her story:
“[Alan] was very polite and seemed so nice right from the start. He introduced himself and asked me how I was doing. General chit chat,” says Jessica. But then he wanted to go from chatting on OKCupid to WhatsApp very quickly. His excuse? He was rarely on the app.
That’s all fine so far, as it’s not unusual to switch to WhatsApp if the conversation is going well. OKC has a notoriously clunky messaging system.
Anyway, she switched to WhatsApp, sent a couple of messages, and got very few replies. When he did reply, he lied about where he lived, and sent photos that Jessica would later discover were fake.
Sensing that something was up, Jessica decided to investigate, and would eventually turn the tables on Alan. Drawing on her experience, here’s how to scam a scammer:
1. Reverse Image Search Profile Pictures
Go to images.google.com, click the camera icon, and either paste in the URL for an image you’ve seen online, upload an image from your hard drive, or drag an image from another window. Click enter and you’re on your way.
When Jessica reverse image searched Alan’s pictures, she found an Instagram profile for another man with over 54 000 followers.
2. Catfish the Catfish
Once she knew that Alan was not the man he claimed to be, she became angry.
“I played along and made up crazy lies about myself. I even told him I was a hacker in my spare time. This was all part of my master plan, but first I wanted to find out what his actual scam was,” says Jessica.
Make sure that while you’re catfishing the catfish, you don’t give out any personal information, or information that can be used to trace you.
3. Wait For The Money Request
At some point, the catfish will probably ask you for money. Here’s what happened with Alan:
Alan eventually called her on WhatsApp, after a month of lies, including his mother falling ill and then dying, and tried to scam her out of some money.
“Within two minutes of us chatting, he told me that the caretaker of his house in Sandton had been in an accident. He needed me to transfer R4 700 into her bank account.”
Now you’ve got the scammer where you want them, which brings us to the final step.
4. Grabify the Bastard
Grabify allows you to track someone’s IP address, location, device, and service provider through a dummy link.
Jessica sent Alan to a website with pictures of Table Mountain. He clicked the link and she managed to find out he was in Pretoria and not the Bahamas like he said.
She then went in for the kill, messaged him, and told him that she had all his information, screenshots of the conversations, and other evidence and could make his life very difficult.
Naturally, he went into a panic.
While Jessica decided not to go to the police, you should probably report someone if you discover that they’re scamming people online. At the very least, inform the dating app.
OKCupid allows you to report people, and they’re pretty good about blocking and banning people who are taking advantage of or misusing the platform.
For now, let’s raise a glass to Jessica.
She played the player in the best possible way.
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