U.S. embassy warns tourists and expats not to use dating apps in Colombia

Jan 12, 2024 | 0 comments

U.S. citizens travelling to or living in Colombia have been warned against using dating apps in the country after the “suspicious deaths” of eight Americans in two months.

According to the U.S. Embassy, Colombian dating apps are widely advertised and target English-speaking tourists and expats.

The U.S. embassy in Bogota said some victims were drugged and robbed after meeting people on these apps. The incidents occur most often in the cities of Medellin, Cartagena and Bogota, the embassy reports.  Travellers are being told to avoid isolated locations like hotel rooms.

Criminals use the apps to lure victims to public spaces like restaurants and bars, where they can be assaulted, robbed and even killed, sometimes by the person they meet, the embassy warned.

In the final three months of 2023, the number of robberies of foreign visitors and resident expats increased by 200% and deaths by 29%, including the eight Americans who died between 1 November and 31 December.

One of those victims was American comedian and activist Tou Ger Xiong, 50, an Asian-American living in Minnesota. He was on vacation in Colombia at the end of November when he was kidnapped and killed after meeting a woman online and meeting her on a date.

Xiong was abducted and fatally stabbed over a dozen times by a group of men.

The number of foreign victims of these kinds of crimes could be higher than the figures suggest. “These types of crimes routinely go underreported as victims are embarrassed and do not want to follow through with the judicial process,” the embassy said.

And those who try to resist or fight back against a robbery attempt are more likely to be killed, it warned.

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