My Tinder Mission
It began as a mission to find the right person to spend the rest of my life with, or at least to find an enjoyable date. (I’ve had a few.) However, it has morphed into a mission to deter Nigerian scammers from messing with the emotions of compassionate women and their money.
We all know they are out there, but when we are honest, good-hearted people, do we really see the warning signs?
Here’s my story:
In my six months on Tinder, I’ve matched with many alleged U.S. soldiers that are deployed for “peace keeping” in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, etc. After texting with several of them, I noticed patterns in the conversations. So, I did what any inquiring teacher would do. I “got on the Google”, as my mom would say, and did some research. I Googled something like, “scammers posing as soldiers on Tinder”. Bada-bing, bada-bang! I realized my bull-shit radar was correct.
Just a few of the sites that came up:
These “soldiers” have similar tragic stories, like both parents had been killed in a car accident or the wife had died of cancer. One of which said he was a “widow” instead of a “widower”.
They each ask very early in the conversation to switch to another texting app to make it easier to talk.
Sometimes the app shows their location as near Akure, Ado-Ekiti, Ikare, or some other unfamiliar place. Google Maps will show you that these are located in southwestern Nigeria. (A flashing red light after reading the above sites.)
All of these guys’ texts are consistent with grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors you would see from a second language learner. I’ve taught English for more than 10 years. Most of my students have been second language learners, so I’m familiar with common errors that occur with non-native speakers.
Actual texts I received that show what I mean:
“I’m going for work now.”
“is there any luck for your match?”
“I will like to know you better.”
“What month are you I’m Febuary”
Within about two hours of texting, these “soldiers” start calling me “babe” and express that they are falling for me or that I am everything they’ve been looking for in a woman. The second day of texting, one said that he told his kids about me. Really?? That’s ridiculous.
“i would like to have you as my soulmate”
“I told my kids about you last night They can’t wait to met with you”
“its nothing……..distance is just a name……….wet time we will get to see we just have to give more time to know ourselves”
(What the hell does that even mean??)
One had the username of Williams Jones. Yes, Williams, with an “s”, but as a first name, not a surname. When I zoomed in on one of his photos, I noticed the name embroidered on his work jacket was Travis McQueen. When I asked the guy about why the name on his jacket was different, communication ceased and within a few minutes, that photo had been replaced with a different one.
So, I thought I would try to find the real Travis McQueen. Took me about 30 minutes or so, but I found him. The photos from Tinder and the one on the guy’s work site were definitely of the same dude. His brief bio showed he had been honorably discharged from the military several years ago. Thus, definitely not “currently deployed for peace keeping.” I tried emailing him to alert him about someone using his photos on Tinder, but never received a reply. At least I tried, right?
Now, my bull-shit radar is always on high alert. If I detect something suspicious, I report it as “feels like spam” and move on. I know I won’t stop scammers from posing as U.S. soldiers, from stealing photos, or from duping people out of their money, but maybe I can slow one or two of them down a bit and piss ’em off in the process. And, perhaps, I will unwittingly match with the love of my life.
If you have a similar experience, please share it in the comments. Thanks for reading!! 🙂