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"It’s the ostrich with its head in the sand strategy," says Goldberg."It’s cheaper for them not to staff a department that addresses complaints and abuses of the product."One reason for Grindr's unresponsiveness, in fact, may be that it isn't actually legally liable for the ordeal Herrick has experienced, says Ashley Kissinger, a media defense attorney with Levine, Sullivan, Koch and Schulz LLP."It’s a living hell."Cases of Grindr catfishing and deception happen every so often on Grindr—sometimes with tragic results.
Herrick said that he hadn't—he hadn't even looked at the app in a week—and asked how the stranger even knew his name.The complaint states that the ex "would manipulate the geo-physical settings" of the app—a simple enough hack using GPS-spoofing apps for Android or jailbroken i Phones—to make fake accounts appear to be located at Herrick's home or work.The ex-boyfriend told WIRED in a phone call that he denies "any and all allegations" in the complaint, but declined to comment further due to what he described as another pending case that involves both him and Herrick.Herrick contrasts Grindr's alleged lack of direct communication or action on the spoofed accounts to the behavior of a lesser-known gay dating app, Scruff.When profiles impersonating Herrick began to appear on Scruff, he filed an abuse complaint with the company that led to the offending account being banned within 24 hours, according to Herrick's complaint against Grindr."A malicious user is just running amok using their product as a weapon," says Goldberg."Grindr can control that, and they’re not."Grindr did not respond to WIRED's requests for comment.Soon there were eight or nine visitors a day, and then more than a dozen, all finding their way not just to Herrick's home, but also to the midtown Manhattan restaurant where he worked.The unwanted suitors had gotten his phone number through the app as well, and bombarded him with messages, calls, and pictures of genitalia.Scruff also prevented the same device or IP address from creating any new accounts.Herrick says that Grindr, despite terms of service that explicitly disallow impersonating other people, never responded even after dozens of requests from him and from family members trying to help.