Love and lust, facilitated by dating apps, can make people blind to fraud. Going to bars in the hope of hooking up is passé. For Indonesians seeking romance or sex, digital technology has made it a doddle to find prospective partners. It has also been a boon to pimps and scammers. After smartphones became mainstream around 2010, apps such as Skout, WeChat, Tinder, Badoo and BeeTalk have allowed users to find people nearby to start a friendship or a more physical encounter. Such apps are not supposed to be used for solicitation or illegal activities, but criminals are heedless to such terms. Unfamiliar with the app, I requested an explanation. In short, you can search for nearby users by gender, peruse their photos and send messages. Charges started at Rp. Online prostitution, in other words. The pimp will pose as a woman and then send one or more to your residence or hotel. Images are often fake, or filters can transform frightening faces into flawless beauties. Some desperate men have been conned by impossibly attractive users, who offer sex but first demand a deposit via bank transfer or phone credit. After paying the deposit, the man gets nothing except a lesson to think with his brain instead. Others learn lessons in the importance of safe sex. You can also view nearby people, send instant messages and even break hearts and bank accounts. Udin Mujiantoko, 39, an unemployed man who had three wives and lived with his in-laws in Sidoarjo, East Java, used Badoo to meet and defraud at least six women in 2016. He posed as the general manager of a Kalimantan-based coal company and claimed to be looking for a wife. Renting a car to enhance his rich businessman persona, Udin usually met his victims over coffee and soon promised to marry them. He would then concoct an excuse to borrow money, anywhere from Rp. After receiving the cash, he would change his phone number and start trawling for the next victim. Police said he slept with at least three of his victims. Udin claimed he was able to seduce the women because he wore a magical amulet — a leather pouch containing a bit of metal and some plant roots — attached to his belt. He was arrested in October following a complaint by his final victim, Triana, who had given him Rp. Badoo Behind Bars Mobile phones are forbidden in Indonesian prisons, but inmates with enough money can obtain such luxuries. At a jail in Ciamis, West Java, a prisoner borrowed a smartphone and created a Badoo account, enabling him to befriend a young woman who ended up sending him Rp. Ris, 23, who was serving a sentence for sexual abuse and assault, made contact with Ernawati, 21, a resident of Blitar, Central Java, in 2014. Claiming to be an employee of state oil and gas company Pertamina, he seduced her with sweet words. During their two-year online relationship, he often asked to borrow money, ranging from Rp. By July of 2016, Ris had been released from jail, but he still refused to meet Ernawati, who was starting to suspect she had been conned. She finally managed to track down Ris and had him arrested in August. He said he resorted to fraud because of high living expenses in jail. Singer, actor and TV host Indra Bekti, 39, became embroiled in a scandal last year after two younger men separately accused him of sexual abuse. Lalu Gigih Arsanofa, 32, an aspiring actor from Lombok, met Indra via Facebook in May 2015 and was encouraged to come to Jakarta. He later claimed Indra had promised him TV and movie roles in return for sex, but the jobs never eventuated. Gigih in January 2016 reported Indra for alleged abuse, but police deemed there was insufficient evidence. He and his lawyer then released a phone recording in which a voice, allegedly Indra, is heard urging Gigih not to press sexual abuse charges. Indra, whose films include My Name is Dick and Bad Wolves, said Gigih was only seeking attention. He also said the release of the phone recording was illegal. Gigih next released a screen-grab of a WhatsApp conversation in which Indra allegedly asks him for sex. The case went quiet until late December of 2016, when Gigih posted a photo of himself with a new blue sports car. He claimed to have been abused in 2010 when he was only 17 years old. He alleged that Indra had locked him in a bedroom and coerced him into sex after a massage. WeChat, You Lose Ken Arga Syahputra, 30, a resident of Manggarai, South Jakarta, was arrested in May of 2015 in the seaside resort of Ancol, North Jakarta, after stealing from at least ten women he had met via WeChat. Posing variously as a coal businessman, car dealer or engineer, he picked up women in his Chevrolet Spin and usually took them on dates to Ancol or Taman Mini theme park. When a woman needed to go to the toilet or wanted to pray at a mosque, he would drive away with her handbag and valuables. One of his victims claimed he hypnotized her, unbuttoned her shirt and stole her gold necklace before she realized what had happened. She says he then drove off when she went to a mosque for evening prayers. Featured Image via Clem Onojeghuo.