Tess Nichol is an NZME. News Service reporter.

Tinder date-hunters become hunted

Tinder app users are scammed by canny online crooks.
Netsafe received 13 reports last year from Tinder users who had suffered personal harm through using the app. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Netsafe received 13 reports last year from Tinder users who had suffered personal harm through using the app. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Kiwis seeking hook-ups on Tinder are being dragged into scams - including some being conned into coughing up travel expenses for dates that never happen.

Netsafe received 13 reports last year from Tinder users who had suffered personal harm through using the app.

"A number of [Tinder reports] were classified as petrol scams," Netsafe operations director Lee Chisholm told the Herald on Sunday.

"People who contacted someone on Tinder and the person ... said 'look I'm stuck in whatever place and I just need some money for petrol if you could put some money in my account.' The person would do that and [never hear] from them again."

Overall Netsafe received 931 reports of personal harm incidents from all kinds of digital communication last year, many of which were instances of cyberbullying on social media platforms such as Snapchat or Facebook.

Chisholm said Netsafe dealt only with virtual harm - "people physically harmed go to the police not us".

Instances of dating apps being used to commit crimes made headlines again this week after a 28-year-old man was stabbed allegedly by a teenager he met through Tinder.

Tinder spokesman Evan Bonnstetter would not comment on the number of complaints made by Tinder users regarding instances of personal security being put at risk.

He also did not answer Herald on Sunday questions about how many Kiwi Tinder accounts had been suspended because of inappropriate behaviour on or offline, or what kind of behaviour would get a user banned.

But he said the company took users' safety seriously. However, with 10 billion connections made through the app in the past few years, Tinder could not avoid a few bad apples. "People with bad intentions exist in coffee shops, bookstores, on social media and social apps."

Bonnstetter recommended Tinder users "be vigilant, report any suspicious activity and [follow] our safety recommendations available online and through the app."

Last year, a string of robberies facilitated by the gay hook-up app Grindr led to a police investigation, which failed to find those responsible.

Police spokesman Nic Barkley said police collected what data they could from social media when investigating, but explained that when the data they needed was held by companies based overseas it could be difficult to force those companies to pass the information on.

- Herald on Sunday

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