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US Warns Citizens Not to Use Dating Apps in Medellin


US warns dating apps Medellin
US warns citizens not to use dating apps in Medellin – Credit: Josep Freixes / Colombia One

The United States has warned its citizens, through the embassy in Colombia, not to use dating apps in Medellín, after several episodes of robbery and incidences of deaths of Americans in the capital of Antioquia. The U.S. Embassy in Bogota has issued a security alert after detecting eight suspicious deaths of U.S. citizens in Medellin during the months of November and December 2023, according to information from Blu Radio.

These deaths, still under investigation, appear to be linked to unintentional drug overdoses. It is suspected that the victims may have been drugged with the intention of robbing them and that they lost their lives due to an overdose of toxic substances. Although these deaths are not presumed to be connected to each other, several share similar circumstances, namely the use of online dating applications through mobile devices.

Increase in robberies by chemical submission

Over the past year, the U.S. embassy has recorded an increase in reports of incidents related to these apps, used to lure and then drug victims, often foreigners, in order to rob them.

The tourism sector of the Medellín Ombudsman’s Office indicates that, in the third quarter of 2023, robberies of foreign visitors increased by 200% over the previous year, and violent deaths of these visitors rose by 29%, most of them being U.S. citizens. These types of crimes often go unreported, either because the victims are dead or because they are embarrassed and reluctant to face lengthy legal proceedings abroad.

The operation is always the same: the person contacted through the online dating application drugs the victim with scopolamine, or other intoxicating substances, in order to commit the robbery, either in his or her rented apartment or by fraudulently using the tourist’s credit cards. The chemical submission produced by this type of drug causes the victim to provide passwords and valuables without being aware of it.

The objective of these criminal practices is robbery, but sometimes they end even more tragically, as the administered doses of drugs do not react the same in all people. The U.S. embassy regularly receives reports of such incidents in major cities, including Medellin, Cartagena and Bogota.

US warns dating apps Medellin
Scopolamine is the main drug used for chemical submission – Credit: Jorge Lascar / CC BY 2.0 / Leandromartinez / Public Domain

Embassy recommendations

In this regard, the U.S. diplomatic headquarters has issued a series of recommendations to its citizens, ranging from avoiding the use of this type of online dating applications, to taking self-protection measures in case of doing so, such as meeting strangers in public places, avoiding secluded spaces, such as residences or hotels; leaving a record of the entry of a stranger to a hotel at the reception of the establishment so that he can be identified; telling a friend or relative about the plans during the visit; not physically resisting a robbery attempt and, the simplest one, trusting personal instincts and avoiding situations that seem dangerous.

To enjoy a vacation to the fullest it is best to follow the logic of common sense, avoiding unnecessary exposure to situations that may result in risk to personal integrity. Following the recommendations and taking the most essential precautions minimize the chances of suffering mishaps that can end up not only ruining a time of leisure, but with even greater complications.

Local authorities, from their tourism secretariats, make a series of recommendations during vacation seasons. As in the case of the United States, they are usually logical premises that every visitor should take when dealing with an unfamiliar place. Victims of crime are requested to go to the police authorities to report thefts or any other incidents that may occur in order that the offenders can be prosecuted.

US warns dating apps Medellin
The tourist police work for the safety of visitors – Credit: National Police

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