Americans Warned About Dating Apps After 8 Suspicious Deaths In Colombia

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Jan 17, 2024 - 04:00 AM

Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The State Department has issued a warning to American travelers, urging them not to use dating apps while in Colombia after reports of multiple “suspicious deaths” of U.S. citizens in the South American country.

A man texts on his smartphone as he walks along a street in New York on March 4, 2015. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

Colombia has been marked as a “reconsider travel” destination for Americans since Jan. 2, with the State Department citing concerns about crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping risks.

Violent crime, such as homicide, assault, and armed robbery, is widespread,” the State Department states in the advisory. “Organized criminal activities, such as extortion, robbery, and kidnapping, are common in some areas.

More recently, the State Department issued a warning of a new threat—with the use of dating apps being a common denominator.

Suspicious Deaths

The U.S. Embassy in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, was made aware of eight “suspicious deaths” of private U.S. citizens in Medellín between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2023, according to a Jan. 10 advisory.

“The deaths appear to involve either involuntary drugging overdose or are suspected homicides,” the advisory states.

While it’s not believed that the deaths are directly linked as each involved “distinct circumstances,” a number of them involved the use of online dating apps, along with possible drugging, overdose, and robbery.

Disturbing Trends in Crime Against Foreign Visitors

Local authorities in Medellín have noted a significant increase in crimes against foreign visitors.

Observatory of the District Personnel of Medellín reports that the number of thefts committed against foreigners (with the exception of Venezuelans) jumped 200 percent in the latter part of last year.

Additionally, violent deaths of visitors from other countries have jumped 29 percent—with a notable majority of the victims being U.S. citizens.

Dating Apps as Tools for Criminal Activities

Criminals in Colombia are reportedly using dating apps to lure victims, particularly foreigners, to meet them in places like hotels, restaurants, and bars—with the aim of robbing them.

“Numerous U.S. citizens in Colombia have been drugged, robbed, and even killed by their Colombian dates,” the advisory warns.

The U.S. Embassy notes that these incidents are on the rise, with major cities like Medellín, Cartagena, and Bogotá being hotspots for such crimes.

While such incidents are reported regularly to the U.S. Embassy in Colombia, it’s likely that the scale of the problem is greater than it seems as these types of crimes “routinely go underreported” because victims are often embarrassed and reluctant to pursue legal action.

Precautionary Measures

Some key actions to take include being cautious when using online dating apps and meeting strangers only in public places.

Travelers to Colombia are also advised to avoid isolated locations when meeting people who they found through dating apps, and informing friends or family members about plans for the meeting.

The advisory also suggests taking extra security measures when meeting new acquaintances and not physically resisting any robbery attempt.

Victims of crime who resist robbery are more likely to be killed,” the advisory states.

The Colombia travel advisory—and the warning about criminals using dating apps to lure victims—comes after the State Department issued a worldwide caution alert for Americans traveling abroad after the outbreak of the Israel–Hamas war last October.

Worldwide Caution Alert

The State Department’s worldwide caution alert cites increased tensions globally and the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations, or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests.

The latest alert was prompted by the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, which came after Hamas (a designated terror group) attacked parts of Israel, killing hundreds of civilians and leading to an extensive Israeli bombing campaign targeting Gaza, the area Hamas controls.

This caution alert comes after the last worldwide advisory in 2022, which followed a U.S. strike that killed al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.