Colombia Tragedy Sparks US Warning on Dating App Use Following 8 American Deaths

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The US State Department has strongly cautioned American travelers against using dating apps in Colombia, citing a string of questionable deaths involving US citizens in the country.

Colombia has been under a reconsider travel advisory since January, citing concerns about crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping risks, with certain regions marked as Do not travel.

The cautionary advice regarding dating apps in Colombia was shared on Wednesday, highlighting eight suspicious deaths of private US citizens in Medellin, the country’s second-largest city, between November 1 and December 31, 2023. 

The State Department clarified that these deaths, believed to be either forced overdoses or suspected homicides, are not necessarily linked but do involve the use of online dating applications.

The advisory notes a surge in incidents where dating apps are used as a lure over the past year. It recounted the tragic case of Minnesota comedian Tou Ger Xiong, who was kidnapped and held for a $2,000 ransom after arranging to meet a woman he encountered online. Xiong was later found dead, underscoring the dangers associated with online encounters.

Mitigating Risks in Colombia

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colombia-tragedy-sparks-us-warning-on-dating-app-use-following-8-american-deaths
The US State Department has strongly cautioned American travelers against using dating apps in Colombia, citing a string of questionable deaths involving US citizens in the country.

 

The warning highlights how criminals use dating apps to entice victims to meet in public places like hotels, restaurants, and bars, after which they assault and rob them. 

It also warns that many US citizens in Colombia have been victims of crimes during these encounters, including drugging, robbery, and even murder.

The incidents predominantly occur in major cities like Medellin, Cartagena, and Bogota, and the State Department suggests that such crimes routinely go underreported. 

To mitigate risks, the advisory recommends using dating apps cautiously, meeting only in public places, avoiding isolated locations, and sharing plans with a friend or family member.

The advisory also disclosed that the US embassy in Colombia has observed an uptick in reports of people being lured by dating apps, coinciding with a significant increase in crimes against foreign visitors during the last trimester of 2023, including a 200% surge in thefts and a 29% rise in violent deaths, with a notable proportion involving US citizens.

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