A new Tinder Swindler? ISIS using dating app to fund terrorism: Report

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The Netflix true-crime documentary ‘Tinder Swindler,’ which told the story of how a young Israeli conman used the popular dating app to lure women into sending him thousands of dollars to support his lavish lifestyle, sent shockwaves around the globe earlier this year.

Now, Tinder is reportedly being used by ISIS agents in South Africa to fund its insurgency campaigns and recruit members, the head of the South African Banking Risk Information Center (SABRIC) Nischal Mewalall told British daily The Times.

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Members of the terrorist group have been creating fake profiles of unknown actors and models to manipulate users into sending them money, according to Mewalall.

Tinder has acknowledged that the app has been used by “a relatively small percentage” of people for criminal activity and has warned people to be wary of individuals asking for money.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy on predatory behavior of any kind. We have a dedicated fraud team that utilizes a network of industry leading technology that scans for fraud and reviews each and every member profile for red flag language, and conducts manual reviews of suspicious profiles, activity, and user generated reports,” the app says in its policy statement.

“Ultimately, no one, whether they met on Tinder or not, should ever send money to someone they haven’t met in person. In addition, we encourage our members to report any individual who has requested financial information via our self-reporting tool.”

SABRIC’s findings also reaffirm concerns put forth by the UN Security Council in a July 2022 report over ISIS using South Africa as a safe haven to rebuild itself after its defeat in Syria and Iraq.

The UNSC said its monitoring team “detected a number of transactions of more than $1 million being channeled through South Africa by ISIS leadership to affiliates in Africa,” including members in Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo and elsewhere in the continent.

Earlier this month, the US Treasury sanctioned four people who provided technical, financial, or material support to a cell in South Africa belonging to the terrorist group, as well as eight companies which were owned, controlled, or directed by the individuals in this ISIS cell.

“ISIS continues to expand its terrorist network across the continent, as evidenced by the July 2022 United Nations Security Council report that highlighted the emerging importance of the country for funds transfers from ISIS leadership to ISIS affiliates across Africa. Treasury remains committed to exposing and disrupting terrorist financing on the African continent,” the treasury said in a statement on November 7.

“Today, Treasury is targeting key individuals in ISIS’s network in South Africa, as well as their business assets, who have played pivotal roles in enabling terrorism and other criminal activities in the region,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson, said in a statement at the time.

“The United States, as part of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, will continue to partner with South Africa to deny ISIS the ability to exploit the country’s economy to raise and move funds to support the growth of ISIS affiliates and networks.”

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