How a romance scammer defrauded 3 Tinder dates out of over $100,000

  • Peter Gray, 35, from the UK, was jailed in February after scamming three women out of over $100,000.

  • The man met his victims on Tinder and took out loans in their names without their knowledge.

  • "He was just so good at being the person that you wanted him to be," one of the victims said.

The victims of a romance scammer who defrauded women he met on Tinder out of over $100,000 have spoken out about being targeted.

Peter Gray, 35, from Yorkshire, UK, found his victims on Tinder and won their trust, BBC News reported. He was sentenced to 56 months in prison in February.

Romance scams have boomed since the onset of the pandemic, with Americans losing over $1.3 billion to the practice in 2022, up 164% from 2019, Business Insider previously reported. Some 70,000 people in the US reported being a victim of a romance scam in 2022, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

In the UK, over £92 million (about $115 million) was lost to romance scams in the same year, according to data from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

Gray used information from driving licenses to scam Tinder dates

"It was shocking," a sister of one of Gray's victims told BBC News. "You see these things happening on TV. You never believe it's going to happen to you, but believe me, it can."

Gray engaged in this behavior for several years. In 2018, he matched with a woman BBC News identified as Jessica. On their third date, Jessica went to Gray's apartment and used the bathroom.

She told BBC News: "I left my bag on his dining table, he went in my bag and took pictures of my driving license and both my bank cards,"

A few weeks later, Jessica found out Gray had taken out £1,000 ($1,250) from her bank account and a £9,000 loan (about $11,000).

Something similar happened to a woman identified only as Hannah, who had only been seeing Gray for a week when she realized a loan for £20,000 (about $25,000) had been taken out in her name.

When Gray showered her with gifts and love declarations — in what has echoes of love bombing — the two got back together.

Hannah ended up falling pregnant with Gray's baby without knowing his history. Hannah learned more about Gray when her sister tracked down of his ex-partners and had a conversation with her.

"There's no way that I'm going to let a child be brought up anywhere near such a vile human," Hannah said. "My world had just literally broken apart in front of my eyes in that half an hour conversation."

The third victim, identified as Elizabeth, began dating Gray in 2020.

Gray sent her flowers despite her never telling him her address, and she later found out that he had taken a loan out for £10,000 (over $12,000) using information he obtained from her driver's license.

"You question yourself and your judgment, and it's like, why didn't I listen to my gut?" Elizabeth said. "He was just so good at being the person that you wanted him to be."

In an article on its website, Tinder shares tips on how users can protect themselves from romance scammers, including using reverse image search to check if matches are genuine, never sending money online, and making sure that people have verified their identity — a new tool the app recently introduced in an attempt to clamp down on scams.

In a statement to Business Insider, a Tinder spokesperson said: "The unfortunate reality is that scammers may pull on the heartstrings and prey on those looking for love or connection — not just on dating apps but on all online platforms."

The spokesperson added that Tinder acts to help prevent and warn users of potential scams or fraud by using AI tools to detect words and phrases and proactively intervene, and that the platform has implemented various ways to warn users of potential scams or fraud, from in-app features to popup messages and education.

"We encourage our users to look for the 'blue tick,' which indicates that the user's age and likeness have been verified through our Photo and ID Verification programs, which require users to submit an official document (either passport or driving license). All users can request that their match be photo-verified prior to messaging.  We also partner with NGOs and local authorities to promote awareness of online fraud," the statement said.

Read the original article on Business Insider