OPINION: Trust your gut with online dating

Netflix’s latest documentary film, The Tinder Swindler, has dating app users across the nation clutching their hearts and credit cards closer than ever, including yours truly. In less than two hours, Netflix shows exactly how several women lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to an extravagant casanova only to be left in financial ruin. 

As a hopeless romantic and a notorious cheapskate, nothing creeps me out more than thinking the cutie I swiped right on is staring at me with dollar signs in their eyes. In a country where more than 91% of surveyed college students use dating apps according to Global Dating Insights, what can we do to protect ourselves from such devilish heartthrobs?

The victims of  Shinmon Hayut (who is also known as Simon Leviev, David Sharon, and who knows what else) weren’t gullible women. They were employees of wealthy industries, property owners and respected members of their communities. Yet in only a few months time they were stuck with several lifetimes worth of debt.

The film stresses the importance of Googling your dates, but that matters little if your match has totally fabricated his entire life. One of the best takeaways from The Tinder Swindler is to rely on your own gut feelings and believe that someone can in fact be “too good to be true.” Hayut lulled women into false senses of security by reading them like a football playbook. 

His bio and cleverly constructed personality made him come across as genuine, attractive, compassionate and a trait nearly all women on dating apps search for, vulnerability. His victims were easily swooned by his extravagant lifestyle full of private jets, free meals and drinks and frequent vacations. Generally, if someone is willing to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on you after only a few days of courtship, that’s not love – it’s a trap. 

This can prove especially tempting to college students who find themselves drowning in debt. So even if you’re not worried about a scammer stealing the entire $4 in your name, keep in mind they can do much worse things with your identity or social security number. 

That being said, take your social security card out of your wallet. Yes, right now. A staggering majority of individuals keep the most precious document they will ever be given sandwiched between crumpled dollar bills and used gift cards. 

Put it in a safe, a heavy, fireproof one preferably. And don’t tell people where you put your important documents, such as your social security card. If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone practically map the location of their credit cards, bank receipts or birth certificates, I’d be able to give Shinmon Hayut a run for his money.

The Tinder Swindler serves as a not-so-friendly reminder that those with ill intentions lurk around every corner, even if they are dressed in Versaci. In this day and age, everything can be fabricated whether it’s Instagram accounts, checks or entire identities.

So for your next Tinder date, do a little more research than you usually would (especially if you don’t do any at all). And for the love of all that is holy, don’t share your bank account information with anyone. Not your partner, your best friend, not even your dog. You never know what may be lurking underneath the surface of a con artist until it’s too late.