While I was browsing through Netflix, I stumbled upon a newly released documentary film called “The Tinder Swindler.” I kind of hesitated to watch it at first but went ahead with it in the end.
Let me tell you one thing: FINDING TRUE LOVE ON DATING APPS IS A ONE IN A MILLION OCCURRENCE. I mean, for God’s sake, haven’t we heard enough stories of failed relationships and talking stages to actually deter us from believing that true love exists in the realm of virtual dating?
There are more chances of us meeting an actual criminal online than to meet a genuine person with the same pure intentions as us. Simon Leviev is just one of the many sharks on these dating apps, ready to attack at any given moment. Trust me when I say that there is a high possibility that people looking for love on the Internet will cross paths with a Simon one day.
I am no victim of an actual big-time swindler but I have had an encounter with someone who emitted the same vibe as Simon.
The Fraudster from Bumble
I met him through Bumble — so for the purpose of this article, he’s a Bumble swindler — and we hit it off immediately. He really made an effort to get to know me (a seldom occurrence in all the time I spent on dating apps) and I kind of felt an attachment to him at some point. He basically love bombed me. I know, I should’ve considered it as a red flag once I realized it but I was actually really enjoying it.
After several weeks of constant communication, he had hinted that he wanted to meet me. I remember clearly he said that it was “his treat.” Okay, I mean, I agreed that I would meet him but I would not let him pay for everything.
I convinced him that I would pay for my share when we met up. He was really surprised when I said that because, in his words, bihira na ang mga babaeng ganyan sa ngayon. I could’ve sworn my eyes rolled to the back of my head from the annoyance I felt when I read that. But still, in the virtue of giving the benefit of the doubt, I still proceeded with the plan.
We met up at a mall but it was too crowded, so we decided to go to another establishment. I didn’t even expect for him to pay both our fares but it would’ve been nice if he offered to do so. But what happened next was the first of the many warning signs I should’ve taken.
I was already rummaging through my bag to get my fare, then he went to me told me how much we owed. He stood still, never even pretended to skim through the pockets of his jeans or even take out his wallet. I took that as an indication that I was the one paying for our fare. It was only a small amount, but still, we had an agreement to pay separately.
He took me to a semi-expensive restaurant and he let me order our meal. I chose the most affordable one for the both of us. It was a meal set for two. He agreed and then whispered something to me. “Wala akong pang libre sayo ah. Kulang kasi budget ko.” I said, it’s fine since we agreed to the KKB arrangement.
While I was looking through my wallet, since we were about to pay for the meal, I sneaked a glance at him. To my absolute horror, he wasn’t doing the same thing. He was sitting there, looking at his phone, not even bothering to bring out his wallet. The server was waiting for our payment so I had no choice but to pay for our meal with my own money. He finally looked at me and told me he was going to pay for his share later.
Crashed and burned
We went to the food court to sit at one of the tables and converse with each other more. By that time, I was already turned off because of the way he acted. I thought that he still had some redeeming qualities but, unfortunately, it all went downhill from there.
He was a pretentious narcissist. Everything he told me about himself reeks of baloney. Unlike the way he talked to me online, he only blabbed about himself the whole time and seldom asked me questions about myself.
At that point, I was ready to run. I was only waiting for him to give me my money, then I would dash without even looking back. By the end of the meetup, he told me he was going to buy some stuff. I thought, “Ah, kaya pala di pa nagbabayad kasi walang barya.” Boy, I was dead wrong. He paid for the stuff he bought, went to me, and told me, “Nice meeting you. Bye.” To tell you that I was flabbergasted is an understatement.
Being someone who is not comfortable with confrontation, I went home without a fight. I ghosted him after that meeting and pushed that horrible memory at the farthest pits of my brain.
My friends were furious and, at one point, attempted to message him to give him a piece their minds. After much convincing, I calmed them down and told them it was no big deal. I went on Bumble with wishful thinking, I agreed to go and meetup, I paid for the fare and meals on my own will, and I left without confronting him. I wasn’t going to waste all my energy thinking of him anymore.
But then again, when I look back at what happened and see the victims of big-time swindlers like Simon Leviev, I think “di lang pala ako ang biktima.” It was not an isolated case, but it was something that is basically a universal experience in the online dating world.
Most of the times, being conned on dating apps does not even involve money. The most basic frauds online are catfishing, love bombing, masking sexual intentions with genuine interactions, and many, many more.
Unlike Cecilie Fjellhøy, one of Simon’s victims, I stopped using dating apps after the incident. I am now clouded with the idea that finding pure love online is simply a pipe dream.
Congratulations to everyone who found their storybook romance on Tinder or Bumble or even Omegle. But that dreadful experience is a lesson that I won’t ever forget.
May this tale serve as a reminder for everyone that the online world is a dangerous realm, whether for love or not.
Be safe out there, kids!
Note: Some of the information in the story has been omitted or changed. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.
Gabriela Alexandra, or better known as Alex, is currently a journalism student at Bicol University. She likes to call herself a struggling artist, an idealist, and a hopeless romantic. She may wander around a lot, but she is never lost.