PEOPLE are turning to online dating due to a lack of time and convenience, but there are risks.
Some internet daters are being catfished by people creating false profiles to be deceptive, and other dates have become violent.
As recent as the weekend, a man connected with a woman on Tinder and went to her home in Bondi in Sydney’s eastern suburbs for a late night rendezvous.
However he had been catfished and was jumped by three men who stole his wallet and assaulted him when he arrived at the home.
Senior lecturer in gender and sexuality at the University of Melbourne, Dr Lauren Rosewarne, told news.com.au people should be just as worried about meeting somebody on Tinder than meeting anyone anywhere else.
“Just as we wouldn’t hand over our address, credit card details, photocopies of our birth certificate to a stranger at a nightclub, we should exercise the same reservations online,” she said.
“Nobody is running police checks on the people we encounter at bars and clubs or those tall, dark and handsome strangers we met on public transport. Just because the meeting might feel more serendipitous doesn’t make a stranger any less strange.”
Dr Rosewarne said when we meet a stranger we should keep in mind the tiny odds they could be an axe murderer and act accordingly.
“There is no way to ensure you’re safe anywhere. All you can do is execute reasonable precautions — not divulge too much personal information, not agree to unsafe meetings in dodgy locations or accepting pick-ups in white vans with blacked-out windows,” she said.
HOW TO SPOT THE DANGERS SIGNS
Dr Rosewarne said there was no foolproof way to ensure you were not being catfished, but offered up the following guiding principles:
1. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is
2. If your love interest keeps delaying an in-person meeting, then there is probably a reason
3. “The one” will never ask for you to make a deposit to a PayPal account before you have your first date.
Dr Rosewarne believes if people limited their interactions with a person to online only, just texting for example, then it was easier to lie and be lied to.
“All those cues that tell us to be wary in real life are absent online,” she said.
NSW Police released safety tips for people dating online following the 23-year-old who was attacked by the three men just after 12am on Sunday.
Police suggest not sending a picture of yourself to somebody you don’t know, and to avoid posting a full profile on the internet.
They warned never to give out personal details like your name, home address, phone number, private email address, details of where you work or recreational activities.
Police also advised against using a webcam with a stranger and organising face-to-face meetings with somebody you have only chatted to online.
“If you do decide to meet a person, always take a friend and ensure the meeting is in a public place,” police said.
People were encouraged to disable GPS function on the app settings as it lets people know where you’re located, and always call triple-0 in an emergency situation.
In November last year, Angela Jay was almost killed by a man she met on Tinder.
Ms Jay called off her relationship with Paul Lambert and he began stalking her, and planned to rape and burn her with petrol before killing her in her NSW north coast home.
Last month, a Houston man said his Tinder date made his life a “nightmare” and blackmailed him and spread lies that ultimately got him fired.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Joseph Lazarus sued a woman he matched with on Tinder in 2014, seeking $A250,000 in damages.
“I feel like I’m living a nightmare I can’t escape,” he said.
After meeting her on Tinder and going on a number of dates, he told the woman he no longer wanted to see her and she began harassing him.
“You’re revolting — like a blemish on my otherwise perfect skin,” she allegedly wrote.
The lawsuit also alleged she told him she would accuse him of rape if he did not and over $12,600.
Tinder has not responded to news.com.au’s request for comment.