A man who allegedly conned two women he met on the dating app Tinder into giving him $26,000 has been indicted.
Brandon Kiehm, 35, has been accused of pretending he needed money to pay for cancer treatment for family members, according to a Tuesday release from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr, who warned of an uptick in online dating-related scams.
“The classic dating scams of yesteryear appear to be thriving online,” Vance said in a statement. "My Office is seeing an increase in the number of scammers targeting singles online. I urge New Yorkers to be on alert when using these applications, and to be wary of those who would take advantage of personal relationships for financial gain."
In August of 2015 and then again in October, Kiehm told his victims his wallet had been stolen and that he couldn't access his bank account, prosecutors allege. He then allegedly offered the women checks in exchange for cash, but those checks bounced.
Keihm is also charged with stealing $13,000 from a man for whom he worked as a dog walker, using stolen debit card information to illegally transfer funds via the money transfer service Venmo.
Charges against him include three counts of grand larceny, one count of identity theft and one count of scheming to defraud.
The DA's office runs a financial fraud hotline for those who believe they have been victims of scams, which can be reached at 212-335-8900.
The office issued the following warnings for New Yorkers who use online dating services:
Top Scams Targeting Singles:
- A perpetrator says they’ve lost access to their bank account because their wallet was stolen and needs money.
- A scammer claims to need money quickly for a family emergency, often health-related, or claims to live in a faraway place and needs money wired in order to visit the victim. The perpetrator might even ask that the money be wired to a different person.
- A suspect asks their victim to cash a check for them, but unbeknownst to the victim, the check is written from a closed account.
- Widows and widowers are often targeted by scammers that attempt to capitalize on loneliness by reminiscing about an era in which the victim grew up.
Tips for Staying Safe and Preventing Fraud:
- Beware of anyone that speaks in generalities, uses aliases or multiple names, or avoids giving specific information, such as an employer, address, names of family members, schools attended, etc.
- Be wary of anyone who asks for money for any reason. If asking for a specific event (lost wallet, family illness, etc.), ask questions and get specifics.
- Never send money to someone you’ve never actually met.
- Ask yourself:
- What do I really know about this person?
- Have I met their friends?
- Do I know where they live and work?
- Do they have a social media presence? Does it correspond with what you know?