We have Tinder Swindlers among us in South Africa – expert tips on how to spot red flags

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The so-called Sandton Tinder Swindler Amon Namara.
The so-called Sandton Tinder Swindler Amon Namara.
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Amon Namara, labelled as South Africa’s Tinder Swindler, was back in court on 9 March 2022 for his bail hearing. According to IOL, the 39-year-old has been charged with fraud, money laundering and theft.

According to EWN, Namara had scammed at least three women out of money, weeks after reportedly meeting him on Tinder.

The story of the ‘original’ Tinder Swindler, Simon Leviev, came to light after Netflix’s documentary became a hot topic, however, Namara had allegedly already started swindling, because he reportedly met one of his victims in 2020 already.

Similarly, to Simon Leviev, whose real name is Shimon Hayut, Namara is said to have posed as a millionaire who owned properties in Johannesburg and a Bentley. These possessions are what he used to lure women and take them on whirlwind dates before allegedly milking them of their money.

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After the Netflix documentary aired, viewers were stunned and asked: ‘how were you be so gullible?’, others even labelled the women as being ‘desperate for love’.

Psychiatrist Professor Renata Schoeman, who is also the head of the MBA Health Care Leadership programme at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, has answered some of these questions.

She says the exploitative schemes employed by scammers like Simon and Amon are indictive of psychopath behaviour because they relentlessly target those who are vulnerable in pursuit of domination, financial extortion and deceit. Therefore, assuming that the victims were simply gullible, incorrect.

In response to these remarks, Schoeman also added that “Leviev’s deceit, manipulativeness, indifference to the consequences of his action, superficial charm, lack of empathy and remorse, are all classic signs of a psychopath”.

“Psychopaths tend to have a higher IQ and are more conscientious than those with a criminal record. They are less impulsive, negligent and irresponsible, and are really good at covering their tracks,” she said.

In light of all the swindler reports going around, Schoeman shared the warning signs of a psychopath as well as how you can safeguard yourself.

The warning signs:

- Psychopaths can disengage and detach themselves from relationships just as quickly as they attached themselves in the first place. Due to their inability to truly connect with people, they will abruptly, coldly and ruthlessly drop anyone if they are not useful anymore

- Superficial charm

- False, inflated sense of self driven by their disproportional ego

- Entitlement

- A need to impress you or those they meet. Look out for patterns of steering or starting conversations that would positively influence your opinion of them

- Incapacity to love or show remorse

- Excessive impulsivity and at times reckless behaviour

- Sudden rages when you cross them or things don’t go their way, however, display cool, calculated calmness in times when other people might be under stress

- Constant conversations about their own achievements and good fortune, with a preference to discussions that centre around the materialistic. Most people have holistic conversations – something they read, about their family or friends or their journey in life

- Patterns of calculated manipulation of people or situations for their own benefit

- Look out for body language – we all mimic behaviour in that if someone, for example, speaks softly you will too. Psychopaths lack empathy so they will be oblivious to signs like these and will not adjust to the situation

- Unstable or lack of relationships. Psychopaths are not able to maintain friendships, don’t have good ties with their family and have no mutually, appreciative long-term connections. Their relationships are shallow and purely for the short-term to reach their self-serving goal

- Psychopaths would rarely share their journey, goals or dreams with you. They have a calculated plan and want to make sure you are not privy to this information in case you become suspicious or worse, you steal their idea

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Ways you can protect yourself:

- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is

- In romantic relationships, keep some mystery about yourself and refrain from sharing too much, too soon

- Don’t move too fast in a relationship – even if he has a jet, take your time before joining him on a trip

- Trust your gut – if you feel that you are being manipulated, you probably are

- Seek out the opinion of your friends and family, and in the office context, your colleagues or a mentor. They can be objective and offer perspective to help you stay true to yourself

- Romance can literally sweep one off one’s feet! But try to stay level-headed, maintain your independence and don’t attach yourself to this person’s life too quickly

- If you suspect anything untoward, keep a record of all communications

- Never part with your personal information or money at the start of a new relationship. One can offer support without putting yourself at risk

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