‘Match’, Date Night And A Huge Bill: Modus Operandi In Dating App Scams

A civil service aspirant from Delhi, whose date with a woman he met on a dating app ended in a Rs 1.20 lakh bill at a cafe, is just one of the many cases of ‘Tinder scam’ that has become rampant in major cities. Most of these cases go unreported because the victims do not want their families to know they are on a dating app.

Multiple posts on Reddit, some of them a year old, narrate accounts of people who were scammed into paying exorbitant amounts during dates with women they met on dating apps. While NDTV cannot verify the authenticity of each of these apps, they point to a common modus operandi.

How Is The Victim Lured

The victim matches with the woman on a dating app such as Tinder, Bumble, Hinge and OKCupid. She readily shares her WhatsApp number and they get talking. Soon, a date is planned. The woman then insists that they meet at a particular locality and that there are many cafes and pubs there. When the victim asks the name of the cafe for directions, the woman tells him to meet at a particular Metro station and that they can go from there.

At the cafe, the woman places the order. Eager to impress his date, the victim usually does not suspect any foul play. Thereafter, the woman orders something that may not be on the menu. In some case, the woman fakes an emergency and leaves the cafe in a hurry. When the bill comes, the victim realises it is several times of what he had estimated. On protesting, he is threatened by the cafe staff or bouncers. Left with little choice, he pays. Most people do not approach the police because a probe may reveal to his family that he is meeting people via a dating app.

Many Players Involved

In the latest Delhi incident that targeted an IAS aspirant, police have arrested the cafe’s owner Akshay Pahwa and the victim’s ‘date’ Afsan Parveen. Police said this scam thrives on an elaborate mechanism involving several players — cafe owners, managers and women who lure the target.

Each player has a cut: Akshay Pahwa told police that 15 per cent of the bill goes to the woman, 45 per cent is divided between the managers and the remaining 40 per cent to the owners.

In his account, a Reddit user has said his ‘date’ randomly ordered some firecrackers that jacked up the bill to over Rs 40,000.

Got Scammed for 45k on Tinder
byu/FinestGold indelhi

“Some couple was burning anar firecracker indoors… The girl insisted that we should also do it. I said no, maybe 100 times. She still ordered it, burned it. I didn’t participate. After this, I lost my interest and called for the bill. I calculated it in my mind to be 7-10k. If she splits, then okay else, I will pay and just leave. Boy, was I wrong? The bill came at 45k… Those anar firecrackers were of 2k each x15 = 30k,” he has said. Another user said that after he was scammed, he realised that the man on the next table was a victim too.

Not Just Delhi

This scam is in play at major cities, including Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, police said during its investigation into the Rajouri Garden incident targeting the IAS aspirant. Earlier this month, activist Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj posted on X about a similar racket operating in Hyderabad.


◾1 club, different names, daily trapping
◾3 men scammed by same girl reached out
◾8 victims in touch, scammed at same club
◾Trap laid through Tinder, Bumble
◾Bill amounts of 20-40K@hydcitypolice @TelanganaDGP @TelanganaCOPs @zomato pic.twitter.com/06xtRp6fHO

— Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj (@DeepikaBhardwaj) June 6, 2024

The victims’ accounts revealed that the same club was operating under three different names and the same woman was reaching out to multiple people on dating apps and luring them to the pub. The victim would order multiple shots and the bill would go up to over Rs 20,000. In some cases, it was as high as Rs 40,000. The victims, in most cases, do not file a police complaint or write about it on social media because they want to stay anonymous. The scamsters move to the next target.

Women Targets Too

It’s not just men who are becoming targets on dating apps. Earlier this month, Delhi Police arrested two men for befriending women on dating apps and allegedly robbing them at their homes, PTI has reported.

The police identified the accused as Vijay Kumar Kamal (28) and Rahul (35). The matter came to light on May 31 when a 35-year-old woman filed a complaint that a man, who introduced himself as Jatin on a dating app, robbed her in her house, senior police officer Ankit Singh said. The victim told the police that she and Jatin (Vijay Kumar Kamal) used to talk over messages before he and Rahul visited her house on May 30. They tied her hands, taped her mouth and assaulted her, Singh said. “Both robbed her gold ornaments, mobile phone, and Rs 5,000 cash and fled, the officer said. “With the arrest of the accused, a total of four cases were worked out of Dabri, Dwarka North, south Rohini, and north Rohini of the same nature. Further interrogation is underway to find out other victims, if any.”

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