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Colombia Tragedy: US Government Advises Caution on Dating Apps After 8 American Death

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The US State Department strongly warns American travelers about using dating apps in Colombia due to a series of concerning deaths involving US citizens in the country.

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

This specific warning, issued on Wednesday, draws attention to eight suspicious deaths of private US citizens in Medellin, Colombia’s second-largest city, between November 1 and December 31, 2023. 

Although there may not be a direct connection between these fatalities, which are thought to be forced overdoses or possible killings, they are all connected by the usage of online dating services.

The State Department emphasizes a growing trend in incidents where criminals use dating apps to lure victims into public places such as hotels, restaurants, and bars, where they become targets of assault and robbery. 

Risk Mitigation Recommendations in Colombia

colombia-tragedy-us-government-advises-caution-on-dating-apps-after-8-american-death
The US State Department strongly warns American travelers about using dating apps in Colombia due to a series of concerning deaths involving US citizens in the country.

The advisory underscores the risks associated with online encounters, citing the tragic case of Minnesota comedian Tou Ger Xiong, who was kidnapped, held for ransom, and later found dead after arranging to meet a woman he encountered online.

The advisory discloses that crimes involving US citizens in Colombia during such encounters include drugging, robbery, and even murder, with major cities like Medellin, Cartagena, and Bogota being hotspots. The State Department believes that many of these crimes go unreported.

To mitigate these risks, the advisory recommends exercising caution when using dating apps, advocating for meetings only in public places, avoiding isolated locations, and sharing plans with a trusted friend or family member. 

The advisory also notes an increase in reports of people being lured through dating apps, coinciding with a significant rise in crimes against foreign visitors in the last trimester of 2023, including a 200% surge in thefts and a 29% increase in violent deaths, with a notable proportion involving US citizens. 

Travelers are urged to stay vigilant and take proactive measures to ensure their safety when using dating apps in Colombia.

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