Food digging: When restaurants use fake dating profiles to get customers through the door

‘Food digging’ is the deceptive practice of creating fake profiles on dating apps to drive consumption in restaurants. — AFP Relaxnews

After using fake reviews to harm competitors’ reputations, unscrupulous restaurant owners are now reportedly using dating apps to lure in customers in a trick that’s been dubbed “food digging”. The idea is to organise a “date” with a victim who then gets stood up but inevitably ends up buying something at the restaurant anyway.

The big night is finally here! You’re going to meet that guy you’ve been chatting to on your go-to dating app. After a few days of messaging, you’ve both decided to take the plunge and leave digital communication behind in favour of a real-world rendezvous. And your date has taken the lead in choosing the restaurant for this first meeting...

You arrive, you wait. And, in the end, your date never shows up, but, while waiting, you ordered a drink, then two, and perhaps something to eat.

It could almost be the plot of a B-movie. Unfortunately, it is reported to be taking place in the real world, in this case, in the United States, where a few days ago on TikTok, a user by the name of @Nosybystanders called out this deceptive new practice, dubbed “food digging”.

The idea is that restaurant owners are creating fake profiles on dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble or Happn, in order to get chatting to someone, arrange to meet them at their specific eatery, and then ultimately stand them up. And, since the jilted date is already in the restaurant, they order a drink or food while waiting. Or, when they realise they’ve been stood up, they go ahead and order dinner anyway. Ultimately, this “food digging” trick is all about pushing people to consume.

The unfortunate victims referred to by the influencer report that the restaurant owners involved are usually quick to suggest meeting and insist on a specific restaurant straight away – so this could be a red flag to watch out for. What’s more, after failing to turn up, the victim is quickly “unmatched” by the fraudster.

This kind of dubious scenario is said to have started in India, according to the content creator, and is now being seen in the US. – AFP Relaxnews

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