Colombia tourists urged not to use dating apps, US embassy warns over suspicious deaths #nigeria | #nigeriascams | #lovescams

Tourists in Colombia have been warned against arranging romantic liaisons online. Photo / 123rf

Visitors to Bogota have been advised not to look for love in the Colombian capital with the US embassy warning of scams and violent criminals targeting tourists using online dating apps.

Colombia has seen a travel renaissance after decades of unrest and violence in the 1990s. Tourists, particularly from the US, have been rediscovering the delights of the South American nation. While longing has made the heart grow fonder, officials are telling tourists to avoid scheduling liaisons on apps.

Last Wednesday the US embassy in Colombia issued a countrywide warning against travellers using online dating services.

The embassy to Bogota said that they were aware of eight suspicious deaths of visitors to the country during the past two months. While these deaths were not believed to be linked the statement said “several involve the use of online dating applications.”

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Travellers were warned that in many incidents the services for arranging romantic meetups were being used to lure victims who had been robbed and assaulted in public places, such as hotels and bars.

This latest warning comes during an uptick in violent crime against tourists across the country.

Thefts and violent crimes increased 200 per cent in the last trimester of 2023 according to the Tourism Observatory for Medellin’s District of Personnel. Violent deaths were up by almost a third, with US nationals representing the majority of victims “robbed, and even killed by their Colombian dates,” said the embassy.

American comedian Tou Ger Xiong was among the victims last year. Criminals contacted friends of Xiong on December 10, seeking ransom after he was believed to have been lured into a trap by local women. The entertainer was later found dead in Medellin.

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Visitors, particularly those arranging meetings with strangers, were advised to prioritise their personal security.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has also issued similar advice via their safe travel advisories.

Mfat did not have information on New Zealanders directly affected in these figures but was aware that a number of Kiwis have been manipulated and defrauded by persons abroad professing romantic interest.

Mfat’s advice says they are aware of criminals in Colombia using drugs and spiking tourists’ drinks to commit robberies and assaults.

“Do not leave food or drink unattended or accept any food or drink from strangers or recent acquaintances,” says the advice.

Visitors to Bogota and other parts of Colombia are advised to hire reputable tour guides to reduce risks of robbery.

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