Online dating might seem like a harmless way of meeting with potential partners, but under the lovey-dovey surface lurks a dark shadow that isn’t openly spoken about. Believe us, spending an awkward first date with a creepy person is nowhere near as traumatizing as being robbed or getting stalked by your ex. For every success story on the internet it seems there’s also a nightmarish scenario on how a date went wrong. If you wish to avoid falling victim to dating criminals, exercise caution and stay level-headed, but we’ve collected an arsenal of tips to help protect yourself both online and in real life.
Robbers Targeting Unsuspecting Online Daters
Dating crimes cover a variety of offenses, and include stalking or abusing your partner. Acting forcefully and emotionally exploiting a person to share nudes (also known as dating violence) also belongs to this category. However, an even more nefarious act is on the rise, in which criminals disguise themselves as potential dating partners, only to rob their unsuspecting target when they first meet.
In 2017 several news outlets told the story of a young man who met his date on Plenty of Fish. After exchanging a few messages, the victim was invited to meet “Vanna” at her house. When he arrived, the woman invited him to the back of the home, only to be assaulted by two men, who took the unlucky soul’s possessions, including his shoes. This cautionary tale isn’t just a standalone incident: in 2013 only 55 corresponding cases were reported, but this number quickly grew to 412 at the end of 2015.
Safety Tips for Daters
The moral of the story is that both women and men can be the victims of dating crime. The culprits prey on people prone to wanton behavior. You should always decline offers suggesting a secluded place for meeting, especially if it’s the first date. Stick to public spaces like restaurants, plazas or movie theaters. Even though it’s cliched, criminals won’t attempt anything suspicious with plenty of eyewitnesses around. Also, be cautious about the kind of substance you consume. There could be a risk of people putting a drug in a partner’s drink in order to numb their resistance. We highly recommend bringing non-lethal self-defense items with you, just in case. A pepper spray or a personal alarm system is small and easy to wield during a desperate situation.
Protecting Your Privacy
The best course of action is still spotting dating criminals before meeting them in person. Thieves, just like scammers, seek people who flaunt their wealth on their dating profile. Selecting ‘high income’ in the options, boasting a good credit score or posing with a fancy car might all invite criminals into trying to fool you. Predators also target people with family or publicly respected jobs (government employees or police officers) because such targets wouldn’t want to blow the whistle in fear of ruining their image.
While chatting with your newfound mate, never get too involved and avoid sharing too much personal information, especially about your finances. If your partner acts in an erratic or suspicious manner, run a background check on them. And don’t be ashamed to do such practices, since your date has nothing to fear if they are innocent. You are just protecting yourself.