A horrible catfishing scam is using real abuse photos in order to lure in unsuspecting victims on sites like Tinder and Grindr. Recently unearthed by Bleeping Computer, it works like this:
Boy meets good-looking girl on dating site. The longer they talk, boy notices the conversation turning into a confession of abuse, with good-looking girl providing him pictures to back up her story. Good-looking girl then asks boy to “prove” his identity using an ID service which, you’ve guessed it, costs money.
Michael (not his real name) shared screenshots of a portion of his chat records with a “beautiful trans woman” with BleepingComputer.
“I almost fell victim to a uniquely cruel catfishing scheme,” he said.
The woman Michael was chatting with asked that he used a third-party “ID verification” service to prove that he’s not a former sex offender, backing up her request with “evidence” of abuse she’s suffered. “Cassey Queen” directed Michael on what website to use and what to do.
From one of the sites Bleeping Computer found:
“We provide safety insurance in which both parties who are suppose to meet are being verified for safe meet up because some of our members complain that they are being harassed and sometimes ended up being robbed and beaten. We make sure that someone will be apprehended if he make some disrespectful acts.”
Many of the sites ask people to register with their card details and other information, including their full name, country of residence, ZIP code, and email address. The form where users enter their details is an HTML iframe, served by dot com sites with keysmash names.
ntrfrnc.com is one of them.
There are a handful of sites with the very same site template, and they all list the same office address in Cyprus.
To verify or not to verify? No need to ask
These “ID verification” services cost victims a lot of cash.
Additionally, all the details you give to these sites will be stored, processed, and used by these services however they like. This also means they could sell your details to third parties, use them to create synthetic profiles, or use them to pose as you online.
Users on Tinder and Grindr appear to be the targets of this scam, but keep in mind that tactics like this could easily spill over into social media sites and other watering holes that enable people to meet someone new.