Thursday 20 June 2019

Protect yourself against 'catfishing'

Gabrielle Monaghan

A growing threat to our internet lives is catfishing, where predators create fake online profiles to form romantic relationships, scam people out of money, or even lure people into meeting them for a date only to assault them.

Last month, Cork's gay community was warned on Facebook to take precautions before meeting someone they came across on dating sites amid reports of orchestrated attacks by assailants using websites and dating apps to attract gay victims.

Groups of young people in the city are posing as potential dates on Tinder, Plenty of Fish and Grindr and carrying out beatings once they have lured them to a secluded location.

This phenomenon is also a threat in Dublin, as one gay Irish man who lives abroad discovered while visiting the capital in December.

After chatting to another user of Grindr, a location-based dating app, he arranged to meet him outside a hotel in Temple Bar one night.

The man, who spoke about his experience with The Outmost, a gay community website, on condition of anonymity, said: "When I got there, I saw the guy and approached him. When I went up to him and said 'hello', a group surrounded me on the pavement, and started taunting me and calling me 'faggot'. I quickly realised I had been ambushed by a group of thugs."

He described the gang as being in their mid-20s and is now convinced the men used a fake photo on Grindr, or took one from another profile, as bait for a planned assault.

"They had me against a wall and I was just waiting for one of them to throw the first punch," he said.

"Luckily, I managed to edge my way around them and ran away as they shouted after me and laughed."

Irish Independent

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