From Romance Scam Victim to Safety Obsessed Dating App CEO

Nicole Drew
4 min readDec 5, 2023

It’s a fall day in October 2018, and I’m a super single 30 something year old woman with a great career. The weather is changing in California, and I am looking to meet someone to truly connect with on the dating apps! I hadn’t always met prospective mates on the dating apps, but I, like many singles found it to be the most efficient modern way to meet others that you wouldn’t normally have the chance to meet. Why not?

I matched with a very handsome man on one of the big well known apps, and was immediately messaging with him and smiling the whole time. We quickly exchanged numbers and were texting feverishly. A week or so later, he asked me to dinner. He lived two hours away, but still was making to make the drive in traffic to meet me. We had a fantastic date, and I was feeling genuinely excited.

About a month later, after several more dates, he came to me in a panic and said someone stole all the money out of his bank and he was left with nothing. It was some sort of identity theft. It was October 31st that day and he was very stressed because the next day his rent was due and he didn’t have it, nor could he as much as buy groceries for himself or his daughter. He then proceeded to ask if I could lend him a decent amount of money to pay his rent because he couldn’t go to anyone else. His family couldn’t help….according to him. It was only supposed to be for a few days until the bank replenished his money lost. I didn’t know him well, but I trusted him enough that he would return the loan as soon as he could. Why wouldn’t he? He had always kept his word in our previous interactions. Now I realize that was all part of the set up. After I lent him the money, he immediately changed his demeanor. Our conversations became solely around this loan and he started to ask for more money. I realized after about two weeks that I had been lied to and he was running a scam. I confronted him and he immediately blocked me. I was so embarrassed and hurt that at first, I didn’t tell anyone. I felt so stupid. I tried to report the man on the app where I met him, but they didn’t remove his profile. He went on to victimize more women, I’m sure of it. I found that with romance scams, you really have little to no recourse against the person. I also found that the apps didn’t intend to do anything to combat this growing issue of both profile catfishing and scamming. They let it happen and it’s now become a massive worldwide issue, with over 1 billion lost in romance scams in 2022. Women are more likely to be victimized than men.

In 2020, the pandemic hit and I had gone fully remote with my tech job. I decided to take my idea to make the dating apps a safer and more authenticity + honesty focused platform — and bring it to life. That day Rater was born!

Rater home screen is all real and actual dating app profile photos (submitted by Rater supporters)

Rater officially launched on Google Play and The App Store in 2022, and is building a multi-tiered solution for the problem of profile catfishing and blatant user dishonesty by combining AI, human verification / feedback, and real life event alternatives:

· User to user human verification system rating system allows for matches to have a convenient way to call out and report scammers and catfishers. The star ratings also reward honest and authentic daters, as higher rated profiles are shown first on the matching algorithm.

Rater User Generated Events + “Anti-Catfishing” Questionnaire

· Sex offender and violent felon checks conducted in the user start up (to keep the platform safe and compliant of the Rater Terms of Use)

· The ‘Radar by Rater’ pop up mixer series for the singles experiencing swiping fatigue and craving real life connection

‘Radar by Rater’ Mixer
‘Radar by Rater’ Mixer
‘Radar by Rater’ Mixer
‘Radar by Rater’ Mixer

Coming soon: A live / real time check-in feature to enhance Rater’s push towards in person meetups + liveness and ID verification.

I think it’s the ultimate feeling when you know that as a woman, you took being lied to and victimized, and you turn it into a technology that will successfully combat this global crime. I’m obsessed with authenticity in the online dating sector and keeping dating safe & honest for both sexes. With Rater, this is all possible. Full circle … that now makes me smile!

To learn more about Rater: www.raterdownload.com

Nicole Drew, Founder & CEO of Rater

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Nicole Drew

Nicole Drew's education is in counseling psychology. She has worked in Executive Support for companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Samsung.