Police are warning people to be cautious when meeting someone they connected with through online dating, saying sexual assaults connecting with online dating are on the rise.
The Winnipeg Police Service said its sex crimes unit is investigating the assaults.
It also said online dating classifieds give criminals the opportunity to “take advantage of unsuspecting persons” anonymously.
Police shared a number of tips, including:
- use a credible online service, saying most require a user fee;
- thoroughly research the service you plan to use;
- never give away personal information over online dating services;
- pop the name of any person you meet online into a search engine to find information;
- meet in public when first getting to know someone and be aware of the risks;
- if you must meet someone alone, tell a friend or family person about who you are meeting, provide their contact information and let them know where you are going. Police also say to take a screenshot of the ad you responded to and share that with your friend or family member;
- set up a plan to have a trust worthy person check in with you after your meeting;
- watch for requests for money, a red flag;
- and follow your instincts if something tells you something is wrong.
Police also reminded people that in emergency situations, sexual assault can be reported through 911 and otherwise, victims can call 204-986-2222 to report. They also said resources for victims or those who know a victim are available online.
In Manitoba, victims age 16 or older who do not wish to report to police can submit a third party report through Klinic Community Health. More information is available on the Klinic website.