Anyone who’s spent any considerable amount of time on Tinder knows that, like any service promising random lonely people quick and easy access to a horde of horned-up singles over the Internet, it kind of sucks. It’s filled with fake profiles, tries to sell you on premium services, and even if you do meet someone, there’s a reasonable chance your date will involve listening to them test out their bad standup routine or complain about feminism.
But while most people are willing to accept that as just one of the tradeoffs of online dating, some people get angry enough to ask for the feds to roll on in and rescue their dating life. FOIA services provider and news site MuckRock successfully filed a request with the Federal Trade Commission, an independent federal agency which guards markets against fraud and anti-competitive business practices, to obtain records of who has filed complaints against Tinder.
Most of the dozens of complaints dealt with catfishing, a practice where scammers pretend to be romantically interested in other netizens in order to trick them into sending money. But others complained to the FTC of spammy “porn cartels” which bombard Tinder users with messages, attempts to extort users over potentially embarrassing messages or photos, an inability to easily prevent Tinder from accessing personal information even after the app is deleted, and fake accounts using their names and photos the company allegedly refused to delete.
One complainant had stumbled upon a BuzzFeed article profiling a woman who tricked men into sending her $5 via Paypal just to “see what happens” (nothing). The person was very insistent that they were “not a victim,” but that fraud was not “honourable” and he was requesting “an investigation” (possibly of BuzzFeed):
Hello, I am not a victim however I stumbled across this fraud scam from an article on BuzzFeed promoting this scam as heroic. This is the second time in two weeks that BuzzFeed has promoted fraud as honourable. I am requesting that an investigation takes place since clearly this is not acceptable. The link to the monetary scams is If you need any additional assistance from me please reach out via e-mail or call me at (b)(6).
Others were mad about spam:
I am being bombarded with this porn spam. Can’t opt out, missing header. I want all spam to stop as it is offensive.
I receive over 70 of this porn spam each and every day. No way to opt out, no headers, graphic and offensive porn, from porn spam cartel. Stop them!
More than a few are kind of sad stories of people being tricked by scammers:
Consumer states that she met a someone online on a website Tinder, consumer states that she was asked for money from someone she had met, consumer states that she sent total of $40000 thousand dollars, consumer states that she found out that this was a scam.
I was on the tinder dating site and I spoke to a man allegedly named Alexis Martin. He claimed to be the CEO of Interesting Engineering. He told me about another app called KIK and gave me his cell phone number. He seemed like a nice person compared to the other people on tinder. So I deleted my tinder account and talked to him on KIK. Honestly I have been through so much I thought he was answered prayer. He told me a sad story and that he needed to talk to his son so I bought 200 dollars worth of Itune gift cards for him and sent him the codes so he could use them. He wanted to send money to me and have me send money to his sick old aunt but i never did that. I stopped talking to him the day before I was supposed to because of an article about these scams. I informed them that I knew it was a scam and he honestly did have me completely deceived for a while. I thought he was a good person because he proclaimed to be a wealthy man with a broken heart who wanted to help me pay for school with no expectation in return. It could have been worse but I wanted to reveal what these people did to me and what they were trying to do.
Here’s part of a complaint from one user angry that Tinder’s Super Likes feature, which allows users to pay to connect with others that haven’t matched with them yet, allegedly ends up with customers wasting their money trying to contact bots:
Tinder is a scam. Tinder allows a person to swipe left of right to show they like someone. If that person swipes to like you back, you get matched. To show someone you REALLY like them, you can buy Super Likes at 5 for $4.99, 25 for $19.99 & 60 for $39.99 through your Google Wallet. This is a link to where you can buy a robot that automatically posts fake profiles on Tinder and allows the buyer to like every person automatically, then send them a marketing message to get thme to Skype or enter a credit card. What this means is that 50,000,000 users are made of most likely of 50% robots.
It goes on and on like that for several more paragraphs.
The FTC does take so-called romance scams seriously, but its powers are largely limited to taking actions against companies which actually aide the scams and advising consumers how not to get tricked. According to the Huffington Post, the FBI receives tens of thousands of romance scam reports a year and estimates losses in the hundreds of millions. Since the scammers are often overseas, it’s very difficult to get the money back.