Women warn restaurants are luring them in via dating apps

Koshiro K/ShutterStock @nosybystanders/TikTok (Licensed)

‘I might as well just have a meal while I’m in the building’: Women warn restaurants are luring them in via dating apps

'Sounds like the beginning of a black mirror episode.'


Jack Alban


Posted on Nov 27, 2023   Updated on Nov 27, 2023, 11:48 am CST

“These restaurants are getting dirty,” a TikToker who goes by Nosy (@nosybystanders) said of an underhanded trick that some restaurants are implementing as a means of getting people to come out and eat at their dining establishments.

It’s a phenomenon known as “food digging” and it preys upon a universal, basic human emotion as its primary impetus in getting people to go out and visit their place of business: the pursuit of love and romance.

In her viral TikTok that’s accrued over 621,000 views on the popular social media platform, Nosy points out several instances where folks discovered that they were hoodwinked by a dating profile pretending to be a real person who was interested in meeting up with them for a date.

However, the date requests almost always shared a common theme: the potential love interest in question wanted to dine at a particular spot, which the other, real person on the other end of their conversation would agree to and show up for.

Nosy begins her video by stating, “Y’all, not the restaurants out here scamming.”

She then cuts to a clip of another TikTok user discussing the time she met a guy on a dating app who asked to take her out on a date at a “specific restaurant,” which he re-confirmed on the day that they would be meeting there.

The woman goes on to say that she ended up visiting the eatery but her date wasn’t there and wouldn’t answer any messages she sent him asking where he was at. After checking her dating application she noticed that he had unmatched her, which she was really upset about because she had put in the time and effort into getting ready to see him.

She figured that since she was already dolled up and ready to enjoy an evening with someone else, she would make the most out of the situation and get herself a nice meal at the place. However, later, when she was at home and “scrolling on Facebook,” she ended up seeing that another woman who visited the same restaurant had a similar experience to her own.

That’s when the TikTok user who was stood up on her date realized she fell victim to a marketing scheme from the restaurant that was posting fake Tinder profiles, matching with people, meeting up at their place of business, and then unmatching with folks as some sort of manipulative direct marketing scheme.

“She found out that there are restaurants now posing as people on dating apps just so you go to their business and once you get stood up, they know that probably nine times out of ten that you’re going to buy something from them,” the creator says. “And that just blew my mind.”

The video then snaps back to Nosy’s breakdown of the events, where she further explains what happened to the woman and the Facebook post she was referring to, complete with screenshots of the purported bot account. The profile is of a non-existent man named Antoine, employed by the restaurant to lure diners into visiting their establishment under the pretense of attending a date.

The Facebook comment reads: “Apparently there are restaurants creating bots on dating apps, having dates show up and there is really no ‘person’ and then you’ll end up getting a drink or eating at the place… lol I think it’s quite genius lol but rude lol.”

Apparently, this isn’t the first time restaurants have employed this kind of digital treachery in a bid to get more customers to visit their establishments. Nosy posted yet another story uploaded by Moneycontrol News, which pointed to a Delhi cafe that turned to fake Bumble profiles to match with men in order to get them to take them out to eat at their restaurant.

“It’s not new. It’s actually a phenomenon and it was first found out that it was recurring in India or the Delhi area,” Nosy says. “And this guy by the name of Archit Gupta…had posted this storytime on Twitter literally just like a week ago, and basically said that he had got stood up at this restaurant by this ‘girl’ which he believes is a bot and he ended up paying.”

Nosy then explains that these bots are called “food diggers.”

“But there’s a name for it: they’re called food diggers. And it’s restaurants that partner with bot apps, right, so the restaurants create these bots across all the dating sites, all of them, Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge and they create these fake…y’all this is insane!” she says, her video showing a screenshot of yet another story highlighting the particulars of these food digger scandals.

“Like I knew restaurants had it down bad right when nobody was going to Cheesecake Factory but this, this is something else,” she jokes.

Nosy’s video then transitions to a screenshot of a Reddit post where another person online said that they fell victim to the same exact scam. “And if you go to r/India the entire thread, the entire thread is a bunch of men and women being, basically scammed by a bunch of food diggers across India and now it’s made its way to the US,” she says.

The term “food digger” also applied to individuals who would only match with folks on dating sites or take folks up on opportunities to go out just so that they can grab a free meal at a restaurant they’ve been meaning to try out, not really because they are into the person that they’re talking to or want to hang out with them.

However, like Nosy points out in her video, there are users in Reddit’s r/India and r/Delhi sub who have called out restaurants for partaking in the “food digger” phenomenon, including the very post she highlighted in her TikTok from the same individual. However, it looked like the scam (at least the one that was being pulled a year ago) was being conducted by women who appeared to be getting some type of commission for bringing folks into the business who pretended by on dates with guys, but would get up every few minutes or so to answer phone calls, presumably to set up dates with other dudes she was scamming.

A more recent post uploaded to the r/Delhi sub indicates that the scam is still going strong and commenters have replied that they are constantly seeing stories posted by hopeful romantics who ended up getting charged for expensive meals.

@nosybystanders #greenscreenvideo #greenscreen yall everybody scamming and that includes #restaurants people are sharing their stories of how they were invited on #dates then left at resturants alone to eat dinner. Turns out restaurants are using #datingapps to get people to sit and have drinks #datingnightmares #stoodup ♬ original sound – 💫NOSY💫

TikTokers who saw Nosy’s post couldn’t believe that restaurants were stooping to such dishonest practices in order to get people to come in and dine at their establishments.

One user penned, “So like the restaurant didn’t think to host a singles event??”

Another quipped that pretty soon businesses are going to end up on MTV’s Catfish: “imagine the next episode of catfish is applebees LMFAOOOOO.”

Someone else joked that businesses are implementing this new strategy as a means of promoting themselves in lieu of turning to Influencers and personalities to help bring people into their businesses. “The is next level promoting and marketing to restaurants they tired of asking Keith Lee for help,” they wrote.

There was one TikToker who said that this type of scam wouldn’t work on them, however, due to the nature of their personality. “This is when being an introvert pays off, cause if no one is showing up, I’m walking out without buying a meal,” they claimed.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Nosy via email for further comment.

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*First Published: Nov 27, 2023, 12:00 pm CST