Officials from the United States have strong cause to advise visitors to Colombia not to use dating apps while there.
The US Embassy in Bogota was informed about eight mysterious deaths (due to the use of dating apps) of private U.S. citizens in Medellin between November 1 and December 31, 2023, according to a statement released on January 10. It was also mentioned that the deaths seemed to be either accidental drug overdoses or possible killings.
Although the circumstances surrounding each death are different, it is thought that there is a common component among some of the deaths, which is the use of online dating applications.
According to officials, thieves use the apps to entice travelers and tourists to meet in public areas like restaurants, bars, and hotels that are frequently seen as safe in other countries.
Numerous inhabitants of the United States have been victims of someone they were supposed to go on a date with beating, drugging, robbing, or even killing them.
Citing local tourism data, the US Embassy reported that in Medellín, there were 29% more violent deaths and 200 percent more robberies during the last trimester of 2023 relative to the previous year.
According to embassy officials, Americans living in other parts of the nation—including big cities like Cartagena and Bogotá—report these kinds of instances to them “regularly.”
Colombia was rated as a “Level 3: Reconsider” travel destination by the State Department on January 2, citing crime, terrorism, civil upheaval, and kidnapping. The degree of advice is one less severe than the highest: Level 4: Avoid traveling.
Comedian Tou Ger Xiong from Minnesota was abducted and held captive for a $2,000 ransom after informing his family that he planned to see a woman he had met online. Later on, Xiong was discovered dead.
According to the advice, those using dating apps in Colombia should only meet in public areas rather than in remote areas. They should also tell a friend or family member about their plans.
Although the number of killings in the last two months is startlingly high, the type of crime is not as stunning. In November 2022, after luring American citizen Paul Nguyen, the Colombian police detained one woman and her two male accomplices in April.
The men then drugged, robbed, and killed Nguyen in Medellin. Eric Hall had survived a similar incident at the same location a few years prior, despite becoming the victim of another one. A criminal gang that preyed on males using popular social networking apps in search of companionship killed a Canadian professor in 2019.
Instructions To Use Dating Apps
The State Department adds that there’s a chance the crimes are more common since victims are allegedly too ashamed to disclose them to local police.
Visitors to Colombia are given a list of advice by the U.S. Embassy, which includes cautions on meeting strangers and using dating apps.
It is highly recommended that you only meet with people in public settings and stay away from remote areas. You should set up a visiting policy with the hotel if you do decide to invite someone into your home or room.
Additionally, you should let your loved ones know about your plans, including the specifics of who you are going to meet and the app you used to arrange the encounter.
The Embassy advises establishing a procedure with a concierge or door attendant to ensure that the guest is properly identified, among other things. Travelers should also arrange what actions the building employee should take once their departure.
The Embassy issued a warning, stating that victims who were targeted by online dating apps frequently had their electronic devices stolen, which frequently included all correspondence records with the attackers.
Above all, if you feel that you should leave a situation, follow your instincts. If a robbery attempt is made, do not physically resist it.