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Dating app scam: When ‘say hi’ turns into ‘say goodbye’

Sound engineer in Vadapalani was robbed by an eight-member gang after meeting a woman through a dating app. The gang filmed him in a compromising position and extorted 27,000. Four individuals have been arrested in connection with this incident.

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In some cases, scammers employ AI-powered chatbots and deep fake videos to lure victims. Conversations on dating platforms shift to Telegram, where encrypted chats provide anonymity for fraudsters.
Miscreants promise up to 20,000 to meet women portrayed as businesswomen seeking one-night stands. They agree to share the contact details and send a car to your doorstep. To facilitate this, you must send a photograph, ID card and bank account details.

AI and deepfakes – a new level of romance scams

Once scammers have these details, they siphon off money from the victim’s bank account and then delete or block their account. Tracking the scamsters is challenging as they use virtual private networks (VPNs) and dark web to mask IP addresses, complicating law enforcement efforts, said Vasudevan, a cybercrime official.

“Previously, dating apps posed significant threats to women, with numerous reports of harassment. In the past year, there has been a shift, with more men falling victim to dating scams. Scammers now exploit men’s interest in meeting women,” he said. Chennai is experiencing a surge in online dating scams, exacerbated by the proliferation of dating apps. Scammers create honey traps through less known apps where fewer checks are in place.

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In one app named ‘Say Hi,’ 24-year-old Damodaran from Vyasarpadi began chatting with one Akila. Their conversations led to exchange of intimate videos and photographs for 500 per clip. Suddenly, Akila accused Damodaran of manipulating her into sending the videos and threatened to report him to police.

Terrified, Damodaran uninstalled the app. The next day, he received a call from someone claiming to be a cybercrime inspector, informing him that Akila had died by suicide, and demanding 70,000 to avoid filing an FIR. Damodaran transferred 13,000 before realizing he had been scammed. He reported the incident to police, who arrested a gang posing as cybercrime officers. This gang had similarly deceived four other victims in the past four months.

In another case, a 32-year-old engineer shared his experience of being deceived by a connection on Tinder. “She seemed perfect —smart, attractive, and interested in me,” he said. Their conversations were smooth, but she always had an excuse to avoid video calls. He used an AI-human differentiator tool and found that he had been chatting with an AI bot, which asked about his salary, financial background and interest in cryptocurrency. Realizing the deception, he disconnected just in time, avoiding a potential loss of 20,000, which he was about to invest based on the bot’s promises of hefty returns. Further investigation revealed the profile was AI-generated.

Many such incidents go unreported due to the victims’ fear of public humiliation and family repercussions. As a result, Chennai police have arrested only twelve people this year, though hundreds of cases occur daily.

Cyber experts advise victims not to let fear of embarrassment prevent them from reporting scams to authorities.

“Be cautious if someone quickly wants to move the conversation to another app. Never transfer money to someone you’ve only met online,” advised Sukumar, a cyber expert who helps police in solving cases.

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Source
indiatimes.com
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This site is about online scams! We inform people so that they are not deceived by scammers who use stolen photos. You can send your story to [email protected]

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