Mortgages and Tinder.
What do the two have to do with each other? This week I learned a new term – "Tinder Swindler."
This comes from a Netflix movie about a fellow in Europe who duped numerous women out of money by borrowing funds with promises to repay them. This is a con that has been around forever in different forms but the increased prominence of online dating has really extended the hunting grounds for people who are looking for their next mark.
In the old days (like when I was young), this scam looked more like a wealthy older man being taken advantage of by a much younger woman. This was the stereotype in any case. The profile has now changed and the swindlers come in many different forms, and of all ages.
Although what follows is going to feel like I’m hammering one gender over the other, believe me the con comes from both genders. My hunch is when men have fallen prey to these scams pride prevents them from disclosing.
Over the last few years, I have worked with three different women who have been conned out of thousands of dollars by men they met through online dating portals. In all three cases these are strong, independent women who work hard and have always taken care of business. All three own their own homes and have great jobs and clean credit.
The game starts easily enough. They each met someone who seemed like a great partner. He was charming, caring and seemed to have his act together. One case started with a request to borrow cash as the partner was in a bit of a jam.
Then, in all three cases, for one reason or another the new partner couldn’t seem to hold down a job. In one case, the partner was starting a new business and just needed some cash to get things off the ground. In another, the new partner used her computer to apply for additional credit and intercepted the mail before she knew she had new cards coming.
It goes without saying that in all three cases the women were left holding the bag with no hope of recovering any of the money they are owed.
For two of these women we were able to refinance their homes to consolidate all of their debts, but for the third she found herself in the horribly difficult position of having to sell her home. After three years of hard work she was able to buy a home again but this was definitely a huge hit to her retirement plans.
Before you are tempted to judge these women for allowing themselves to be victimized, understand none of the three are stupid women. They were trusting to a fault, and never thought for a minute their partners were anything other than the front they saw.
This is intended as a cautionary tale. If you are early on in a relationship and your new partner is looking to borrow money or asking for you to apply for credit on their behalf, open your eyes. Trust your gut. Question why they are in the situation they are in. Get the details. Don’t be afraid of difficult conversations to get to the truth.
Life happens to us all, and sometimes things are as they seem. However, if you are in a relatively new relationship and your partner is looking for money, think long and hard. It’s a slippery slope. One woman said to me, “In for a penny, in for a pound. I kept hoping things would turn around and if I held out he would pay me back. In fact, it just cost me more money.”
If you find yourself in this situation, I urge you to make a move and get help sooner rather than later. There are often options you are not aware of so you need to make changes as soon as possible so your credit and financial situation are not compromised.
On a different note, if you own a home you should have received mail from the provincial government asking you to complete a declaration regarding the Speculation Tax. Make sure you take care of it before the March 31 2023 deadline or you may receive a tax bill of up to two per cent of the value of your home.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.