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Match Group CEO has ‘empathy’ for victims of dating app scams, but says ‘things happen in life’

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The CEO of Match Group, which owns Match.com, Hinge and Tinder, said that he has “empathy” for victims of scams on dating apps, but “things happen in life.”

Bernard Kim, who’s headed the online dating giant since 2022, told CBS News that Match Group has policies in place to protect its users, but can’t do much when they fall victim to financial scams and lose their life savings.

“Look, I mean, things happen in life,” Kim said of foreign-based criminals who reportedly stole more than $1 billion in 2023 from victims they lured in under the guise of online romance.

Match Group CEO Bernard Kim said of scams that happen on the company’s swath of online dating platforms: “I have a tremendous amount of empathy for things that happen, but … things happen in life.” AFP via Getty Images

“That’s really difficult. I have a tremendous amount of empathy for things that happen, but I mean, our job is to keep people safe on our platforms; that is top foremost, most important thing to us,” Kim told CBS.

Match Group’s trust and safety guildes advise its users not to send money to people they meet on its platforms — which also includes OkCupid, Plenty of Fish and The League, among other platforms — and to report anyone who asks for any type of wire transfers, gift cards or other investment.

“It is the first and foremost top priority for us as an organization,” Kim added, according to CBS. “We’re working really, really hard every single day to make sure that people are authentic.”

“The unfortunate reality is that scammers may pull on the heartstrings on those looking for love or connection — on dating apps and on all online platforms,” a Match Group spokesperson told The Post.

“Over the last several years, Match Group has taken steps to help prevent and warn users of potential scams or fraud using automated tools to detect suspicious language and proactively intervene. We have also implemented various ways to warn users of potential scams with technology, created tips and the common behaviors of scammers to help users identify potential scams so they can help stay safe and protected while online.”

US law enforcement officials said that dating app scams aren’t new, but have recently spiked as con artists have realized just how easily they can access lonely, vulnerable Americans.

Dallas, Texas-based Match Group owns Match.com, Hinge, Tinder, OkCupid, Plenty of Fish and The League, among other dating apps. SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

“We see from 2017 to 2023 is when we had the sharp increase in romance frauds,” James C. Barnacle Jr., the financial crimes section chief for the FBI, told CBS.

When asked what changed, Barnacle replied: “The proliferation of the dating sites.”

It wasn’t clear just how many scams of this kind have taken place in recent years, though CBS reported that the figure is in the tens of thousands.

By some estimates, as many as 40% of the victims are men, according to CBS.

Meanwhile, a 2019 lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission claimed that Match Group data from 2013 through 2018 showed as many as 30% of profiles on its flagship website, Match.com, were opened with the intent to commit fraud.

Match Group has said that the FTC’s statistic had no merit, insisting that it wasn’t legally responsible for interactions between scammers and their victims on the platform.

Match Group recently hired Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former chief of trust and safety, to serve as the vice president of trust and safety for the dating app giant. The Washington Post via Getty Images

Most frequently, users on Match Group’s dating sites were vulnerable to “phishing” scams, where fraudsters steal customers’ personal information, as well as “sextortion scams,” which tricks victims into sharing compromising photos or videos that are then used as blackmail to extort money, the FTC’s lawsuit claimed.

A judge later dismissed the portion of the FTC’s lawsuit that held Match Group responsible for frauds that occurred on its apps, per CBS.

Match Group hired Twitter’s former trust and safety chief in February to head up its own trust and safety division as scammers pose an increasing threat to innocent users looking for love.

The Dallas, Texas-based company’s prominent new hire, Yoel Roth, said in a LinkedIn post when he “swiped right” on Match Group that he initially forayed into trust and safety 15 years ago because “the then-new world of dating apps felt like the Wild West.”

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