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Swipe Right, Swipe Left: Scams and Legal Considerations When Using Dating Technology

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Swipe right. Swipe left. Dating apps and sites have made things just that easy. And to some degree, we are ok with that. Most of our dating society has embraced the convenience and ease of a dating culture that starts with a selfie, a swipe or click, a few texts, and ends with the possibility of a low stress, no mess hook up. And who doesn’t love an enjoyable low effort thing falling into one’s lap? A word of caution. Some things are too good to be true. Like a Nigerian prince that wants to give you a bunch of money, there are dating scams you need to be aware of.

Realize, who you think you are talking to, despite their posted age and exquisitely gorgeous and scantily clad profile picture (or photos they send you), may in fact be someone else. Is it hard to imagine that someone would pretend to be someone else on a dating app? Online dating apps and sites provide the means of falsifying identities, allowing individuals to lie about critical pieces of information, such as age. Additionally, internet extortion scams that involve entrapping unsuspecting individuals into messaging and receiving photos from individuals that are later claimed to be “minors" are now frequent. The scam generally involves a “parent” contacting the scammed individual and asking for money so that the “victim” can get treatment from the trauma of the exchanged graphic photos. 

So should we not use these sights and apps? No. However, you should be mindful of what you text and the information you send. Without true age verification, you don’t know how old the individual is that you are talking to. And newsflash, kids have access to the internet and mobile apps. You could easily be the recipient child pornography because you ask for a “sexy photo” and didn’t know you were talking to a 13 year old. And by the way, sending a provocative naked photo to a minor is also a felony. In Louisiana, lack of knowledge of age is not a defense.  

Be mindful of random individuals requesting photos and information about you. Be mindful not to send sexual photos to individuals you have never met in person and whose age you haven’t verified. And if you are going to meet people you met online, do it initially in a public place. If confronted with someone trying to extort money from you, ask for proof of certain fundamental things: Proof of the alleged victim's age, proof of a treatment facility, and proof of medical bills. When in doubt, contact an attorney immediately. 

Swipe right. Swipe left.  Swipe responsibly and with the knowledge that where there is convenience and “low hanging fruit,” there are individuals that will take advantage of that convenience. Use common sense and avoid the possibly of criminal liability by thinking before you text, snap, tweet, or send that picture to someone else.  

Do not hesitate to contact the Borghardt Law Firm in the event you have questions or need legal services regarding dating technology related issues. 

Franz Borghardt