I have lived in three cities but nothing could have prepared me for this situation. This incident is something that all of us are warned about when we join any online dating app. But we never think it can happen to us. When the possibility of this happening to any random Tom, Dick, and Harry is extremely high. Back in 2019, I found myself in a Tinder Swindler position. Here’s what happened.
It was just another boring weekday when I was mindlessly swiping through profiles on a dating app. Nothing ever comes out of these apps, right? Some profiles did not catch my eye, others were downright sleazy. And the rest were just fake profiles. Sigh. Just a usual day.
Until I chanced upon this profile that also sent me a cute message with their swipe (take note, people). I swiped right and we began a conversation. The guy, let’s call him Ranvijay*, had moved back to India a month ago from New Zealand* after staying there for four to five years. He had found a shared apartment and he was just settling in.
Despite some cultural differences, Ranvijay and I had a few common interests and that got us closer and we started dating exclusively in a short span of time. I never chanced upon the red flags because he often cooked for me on our dates. And the bar is so low that a man who cooks, knows how to hold a conversation, respects boundaries, and understands your crazy schedule without taking it personally stands out. What else could go wrong right? I was about to find out.
Things were rosy until he started asking me for money. And I felt obligated to help him because he was nice to me. I could have said no because I was a broke student back then. But the thought never occurred to me that it might become a serial offence.
The first time he asked for money was when he organized a house party and he fell short of cash. Mind you, I wasn’t invited nor did I even know of the party till he asked me for money. I was his girlfriend. Imagine hosting a party and not inviting your girlfriend. That’s a big red flag. But I was stupid enough to not confront him about this. I wanted to be the “chill girlfriend.” I gave him the money that I had earned while I was freelancing along with my studies. He had a full-time job.
Ranvijay apologized to me for asking for a hefty sum and he promised to pay me back once he managed to transfer his bank account from New Zealand to India. What I thought would be a one-time thing started increasing exponentially.
The second time he asked me for money was when he had to pay back someone from whom he had borrowed cash. All of these amounts were in four digits and it started affecting me and my bank account terribly. But for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to say no.
Things reached their zenith when he asked me for money again. And I, regretfully, lent him the money he needed. The exact amount. This time he told me the bank can’t transfer his account because of “security issues.” This wasn’t just a red flag, but a firetruck now.
It was only when I sat with a friend and I was telling him about how much I liked this guy he slapped the rose-tinted glasses away from my eyes. I sat back and took a bird’s eye view of how things were panning out. The math started mathing. By the time I could process one situation, Ranvijay presented a second situation and I could never process any of them. That man had taken me in for a ride.
The fourth time Ranvijay shamelessly asked me for money, again. This time I refused to help him. Words fall short to describe the fit of rage he went in and I could not help but chuckle. Thankfully, it was on a call. I put the phone away and let him yell as much as he wanted to while I ran a rerun of Seinfeld on the side and ate popcorn.
Last year, Netflix released a documentary called The Tinder Swindler and I could see myself in the exact same position if only my best friend did not help me. I wish they released it sooner. Regardless of your gender if any person keeps asking you for money, you now know better.
(* names have been changed to protect identity)