The era of online dating has produced all stripe of innovation in the area of lonely hearts scams. While most of them revolve around parting a would-be romantic partner from their money, a recent arrest revealed one that revolved around a gustatory target.
45-year-old Paul Gonzales was arrested for a two-year-long dine-and-dash spree targeting women he’d met online using dating apps. While his name would occasionally vary, he was consistent with his methods, even after being sought on a bench warrant. Gonzales persisted in this scam de jour, inviting a date for dinner via a dating app, ordering a salad, steak, shrimp, wine, and a baked potato, and then pretend to need to answer a call before finishing his meal. He would then beat a hasty retreat, leaving his “date” with the bill.
“Eight women purportedly ended up paying the bill themselves, one in the belief that the defendant was going to pay her back, while in two other instances the restaurants picked up the check,” said the L.A. District Attorney in a statement.
While the stakes of this scam aren’t quite as high as some of the other online scams out there, it should stand as a lesson: Social media expands your attackable surface, and can make you a target for a wide variety of crimes.