Overseas organized crime hides behind Tinder scam

Kiwi women are defrauded of millions of dollars a year in romance scams run by organized crime networks based abroad.

Thing spoke to two New Zealand women, Joanne* and Donna* who were both tricked into giving away more than $500,000 each by men they met on Tinder in nearly identical scams.

The elaborate scams involved fake news videos, a fake banking site, and dozens of daily emails and phone calls.

Senior Detective Sergeant Chris Allan of the Auckland City District Finance Unit, said Thing As of Friday, millions of dollars a year were “scammed by scammers taking advantage of those looking for love online.”

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Police have seen the same stolen image used on forged New Zealand driving licenses, like this one.


Police have seen the same stolen image used on forged New Zealand driving licenses, like this one.

Police investigations indicated that the perpetrators of the scams were mainly based overseas.

“These are usually organized criminal networks that defraud multiple victims at once.

“To keep their story on track when interacting with multiple people, they use the same profile. Police often see the same photo used over and over, with a different generic name, pedaling a similar story about their fraudulent background.

Police were getting a “constant stream” of reports from people who had been scammed by someone they had met online, either on a dating site or a dating app.

“Those who commit romance scams are experts at what they do and will come across as genuine, caring and believable. Unfortunately, they are present on most dating platforms.

Allan said there was a pattern that the scammer moved the conversation from a reputable dating site to WhatsApp. Police had also seen the same stolen image used on doctored driving licenses in New Zealand.

The scammer “then quickly professes his love and admiration for the victim”, before revealing that he is either a wealthy businessman or a military man based abroad.


Joanne* lost around $540,000 in a Tinder scam.

“Once the trust is gained, they ask the target for financial assistance.”

The method of payment varied depending on the capability of the victim, with cryptocurrency being the preferred method.

“However, sending money or making a bank transfer overseas through a money sender, transferring funds to someone else’s scammed bank account, or remitting money to a cryptocurrency trader laundering money, are other potential ways a scammer will ask the victim to provide them with funds.

Private investigator John Borland, who is investigating Joanne’s scam, said there was an “emerging criminal pattern” with the experiences of the other women.

“It’s clearly a well-planned and premeditated approach where they build a relationship by asking typical questions like ‘favorite color, favorite food, like/dislike’ – all the normal things you’d expect to see on conversations from dating apps,” Borland mentioned.

He said earlier he believed those behind the operation were living overseas, with connections in New Zealand.

This is a fake news video provided by the scammer to the victim.

“There is no autonomous offender. There are several offenders – a pseudo-ring. There were lengthy communications and multiple parties involved. It’s quite obvious that it’s not just one person…it’s too large a scale and I think the volume defrauded is too high.

Earlier, police told Joanne her case was ‘closed’ and would be held by police pending any further information.

However, on Sunday they emailed to say his case had been forwarded for further assessment.

“If further action can be taken with your case, an officer will be in touch.”

The money sent by Joanne went to a Kiwibank account. On Friday, a Kiwibank spokesperson said they were unable to answer questions about individual customers or accounts due to “confidentiality obligations”.

“What we can say is that in situations like this there are often multiple layers of scams and multiple victims. New Zealand Police are the appropriate forum for victims to come forward with their concerns. concerns about the actions of anyone suspected of having received money.

The Tinder scammer used several photos of this man, who he claimed was Dale Plumides.  The true identity of the man in the photos has not been established.


The Tinder scammer used several photos of this man, who he claimed was Dale Plumides. The true identity of the man in the photos has not been established.

Banking ombudsman Nicola Sladden said earlier she was seeing a “worrying increase” in fraud and scam complaints, year on year.

There were a few types of scams where customers were tricked into sending their own money to a scammer – such as online shopping scams, investment scams, and romance scams.

The issuing bank was unlikely to be held liable when someone instructed it to send money to someone and later found out the individual was a scammer.

The ombudsman expected banks to take “reasonable steps” to identify and act on red flags such as a customer being evasive or unwilling to provide information about the purpose of a transaction, or when their description of the purpose had a “characteristic” of a scam. .

Police have advised people to be wary of any approach online where something might seem off.

Red flags to be aware of:

  • People who always have excuses as to why they can’t meet you in person or even via video call
  • Those who often find themselves in a hard-to-reach place (e.g. working on oil rigs, in the military, working overseas)
  • People who always have a bloody history (for example, a child or a family member is sick), and there is always a degree of urgency

Police advice for those looking for love online:

  • Be careful what you post and make public on the internet. Scammers can use information shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you
  • Find the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name or details have been used elsewhere
  • Beware if the person seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly
  • Note if the person is trying to isolate you from friends and family or is asking for inappropriate photos or financial information that could then be used to extort you

If you think you have been scammed, you can contact the police and report the matter via 105.

Visit consumerprotection.govt.nz/general-help/scamwatch for more information on how you can prevent yourself, your family and friends from being scammed.

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