When you’re looking for romance online, you’re right to be cautious about fake accounts using someone else’s photos and information. But what happens when you’re the one whose image and info is repeatedly being misappropriated by an ex, resulting in scores of amorous suitors showing up on your doorstep?
A New York man says that not only has his ex-boyfriend been setting up fake profiles in the man’s name on Grindr, but that the website failed to respond to dozens of his requests to have these bogus accounts taken down.
The lawsuit [PDF], filed last week in Manhattan Supreme Court, the plaintiff, Matthew, accuses Grindr of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false advertising, and deceptive business practices for allowing his ex to harass him with the help of multiple fake profiles.
According to the lawsuit, the ordeal began in Nov. 2015 when the plaintiff’s then boyfriend began impersonating the man on Grindr chat with other users.
Matthew discovered the issue in June 2016, asked his boyfriend to stop, then ended the relationship in Oct. 2016.
That’s when the plaintiff says the ex-boyfriend began creating Grindr profiles that included correct descriptions of Matthew’s age, build, and ethnicity. The ex allegedly used these profiles to make “endless appointments for sexual encounters between plaintiff and strangers.”
The fake profiles under names like “Raw Pig Bottom,” and “muscle daddy,” indicated that these fictional versions of Matthew were interested in hardcore and unprotected sex, bondage, and had drugs to provide.
Matthew says that his ex would use these profiles to set up dates with other men, then direct them to Matthew’s address. According to the complaint, since Nov. 2016, as many as 16 men a day came knocking on Matthew’s door or place of work, expecting to hook up.
“The typical number of visitors per day was four to eight at home and at its peak, an additional four to eight visitors per plaintiff’s six-hour work shift,” the lawsuit states.
In some cases, the lawsuit alleges that these visitors became hostile and refused to leave.
In all, the complaint alleges that because of Grindr’s alleged refusal to remove the fake profiles, 400 men have responded to the man.
“Plaintiff is not safe in his own home,” the complaint states. “The men who respond to the ad are intimidating and often on drugs or seeking drugs.”
Matthew says that he, his family members, and friends have contacted Grindr on more than 50 occasions from Nov. 2016 to Jan. 2017 asking for the offending profiles to be taken down.
“At no time did Grindr remove the abusive accounts,” the lawsuit states. “In response to plaintiff’s detailed pleas, at best Grindr responded with an auto-generated reply stating ‘Thank you for your report.’”
Additionally, the lawsuit notes that the plaintiff has filed 14 police reports and petitioned for an order of protection. The man’s lawyer also sent a cease and desist and preservation letter to Grindr on Jan. 24.
As a result of Grindr’s inaction, the plaintiff, who is an aspiring actor, says that photographers are afraid to work with him and he had to drop a sponsorship with a South African touring company.
“Plaintiff is humiliated on a daily basis and afraid to be in public places or at home alone. He is in a constant state of hyper-vigilance, afraid that Grindr has been used to incite or seduce the wrong person — somebody who will make good on threats to attack or rape him.”
Consumerist has reached out to Grindr for comment on the lawsuit, and will update if we hear back.