After a relationship ended, I made a conscious decision to take the fall and winter off from dating. I needed time to reflect. Plus, cocooning with a good book on a Friday night is always preferable to making awkward small talk with a stranger at an overpriced wine bar.
When I felt ready to get back out there, I downloaded the popular dating app Bumble, which differentiates itself in the market by only allowing women to make the first move.
I was immediately impressed by the calibre of men on Bumble. It was a seemingly never-ending parade of interesting, successful and handsome men. Lawyers and creative directors and CEOs, oh my! Some seemed almost too good to be true — and I started to suspect they were.
Online dating has a rich and sleazy history of fake profiles. When it was revealed 70,000 female Ashley Madison users were actually fembots and actual women were a rarity on the adultery-friendly dating site, it was no real surprise to anyone (except to male Ashley Madison subscribers). With the surge in popularity of mobile dating apps, there came a surge of fake profiles migrating from websites to apps; suddenly, pornbots and scammers were just a smartphone swipe away, hoping to part you with your money, personal information, confidence, swiftly fleeting youth/beauty/fertility or all of the above.
They sure come in pretty packages, though.
Less than a week into my dating app adventure, I Bumbled across a dreamy man. We’ll call him “Jake”. This tousled Brad Pitt lookalike stated in his profile that he was the corporate director of large Canadian firm I won’t name — an impressive title for a 33-year-old who looks like he’s spent far more time on a beach than in a boardroom.
Suspicious, I got in touch with their head office. They had a few different corporate directors, they told me, but nobody by his name was found in the company’s global directory.
Jake — or at least the version of Jake profiled on Bumble — did not exist.