Online dating has completely changed sex and relationships. Never has it been easier to meet new people to date, with dozens of apps and countless dating websites dedicated to connecting individuals together. With a few flicks of a thumb, prospective suitors can have access to hundreds of thousands of profiles of those seeking fun and romance.
While there are plenty of amazing success stories that have started by logging on to a dating service, this easy type of connectivity has a massive downside. Digital communication allows people to hide behind a screen, potentially misrepresenting themselves by creating an alternate persona. One of the most famous examples of this type of 'catfishing' was the saga of Manti Te'o, an NFL prospect who was duped into falling for a fake online girlfriend.
Due to the constant threat presented by trolls, hackers and worse, following basic safety tips, such as bringing a friend or gathering in a public place for the first meeting, helps reduce the chances of becoming a target of malicious criminals using online dating services to find targets.
The following, unfortunate souls ended up becoming embroiled in serious criminal situations sparked by online dating, sometimes as perpetrators of drunken shenanigans. Other times, these dates descended into horrifying ordeals that ended in violence.
15 Swipe Right into Robbery
A 34 year-old man started his morning by entering into a Tinder conversation with a 20 year-old woman named Brittany at 5:30am and within a few hours, the chat turned steamy, with the two arranging the best time to meet for a round of fornication.
She convinced him to bring cash by telling him that "it's gunna cost ya" if "you wanna f___ me." So he showed up to a parking lot later on in the day with $290 and a bottle of Wild Turkey, presumably as a lubricant to love.
After he got out of the car to hug her, he was greeted by a man named Jack Anthony Croucher, who wielded a long metal pipe and threatened to end his life if he didn't hand over the money, an iPhone and the Wild Turkey, before smashing the windscreen of the vehicle.
14 When Fools Brawl in Love
After meeting through an online dating agency, Andrew Buckley and Sharen Joyce seemed to be really hitting it off, eventually ending up back at her apartment for a nightcap. For reasons unknown, a loud argument started between the two, drawing the attention of her neighbours.
When the police finally arrived, Sharen had bruises and scratches on her neck and Andrew had a fractured arm and leaked copious amounts of blood from his face. Turns out the date somehow devolved into a brawl in which she swung a chair at him, after which he decided to grab her throat, causing her to chomp down on his chin.
Buckley was sentenced at the Perth Sheriff Court to 200 hours of community service. The pair decided to keep on seeing each other despite suffering a rocky, felonious start to their relationship.
13 Is That Your Yacht?
A double date matched through a relationship website connected Charles Todd, Melissa Almanza, Tiffany Reine and Anthony Wilson for a rendezvous in Madisonville, Louisiana, close to New Orleans. The quartet roamed around town, vising a pair of local establishments before taking the party to the Tchefuncte River.
They decided to hop on a random yacht and rev the motor, breaking free from the dock. According to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office, "before coming to rest... the boat struck another yacht, a smaller boat and a pier." The four star-crossed online daters scattered into the night, their activities caught by video surveillance cameras.
All were charged with trespassing. Tiffany was charged with unlawful entry and burglary, Melissa was also booked for unlawful entry and Anthony was charged for possessing Viagra without a proper prescription.
12 Robbed at a Waffle House On Christmas Eve
A woman using the online dating site Badoo met a man named Cash through the service and after messaging each other, they agreed to meet on Christmas Eve at a waffle house in Georgia.
At the Waffle House, he went inside, quickly returned to the car and asked her to park on the dark side of the building. She refused and he went into the restaurant again, grabbing the food and saying that the order wasn't worth $20.
She proceeded to drive to a local motel when he decided to rob her and shoot her in the face. Luckily, the bullet nicked her jaw. He drove off with her Jeep Cherokee and other personal belongings.
Local police warned others that this wasn't the first time a robbery took place during an online date, stressing for people to choose a public venue for the first date.
11 "Gooch" Steals Car
The Waterford Township Police Department were on the hunt for a man nicknamed "Gooch" after an online date went wrong. A woman from New Jersey met the Gooch, also known as Gennaro Aladena or Mike Rossman, through the OKCupid dating site.
The date quickly turned sour when Gooch decided to take her car keys and drive off with her 2007 Toyota Solara without permission. After putting out an APB for the 50-year-old, chain-smoking car thief cruising through town in a crimson Solara, they quickly found and arrested the man.
His real name was Gerald Tietz. In addition to being charged for auto theft, he was presumably booked with one count of aggravated stupidity.
10 Digital Bonnie and Clyde
A couple who met online in the peninsula area south of San Francisco connected in a way that couples rarely experience. David Cooper of Redwood City and Keyana McLish of San Pablo decided to go all Bonnie and Clyde on the city of San Mateo after knowing each other for a few weeks.
Keyana drove getaway while David wielded the shotgun, robbing victims randomly on a spree that terrorized the town. In one incident, they chased a man back to an apartment complex before he was accosted and relieved of his valuables.
Eventually, the pair were identified as the culprits after one of the victims managed to get a decent look at the crime couple. The hoop earrings worn by Keyana ended up proving their involvement in this crime spree enabled by online matchmaking.
9 Beautiful Woman Morphs Into Man With Taser
Internet matchmaking is famous for the falsehoods that some people portray to make themselves look more datable by manipulating their profile picture and personal information.
An eighteen year old man from the Bronx found this out in the worst way possible when he arrived at an apartment building on East 181st Street after connecting with a date on Backpage.com.
After knocking, the front door swung open to reveal a dude with a taser instead of a woman. The suspect took the man's cell phone before fleeing the premises. Incredibly, the NYPD found him on the same website, using a different profile that featured a real picture of himself.
8 Woman Lures Date Into Robbery... by a Trio of Men
A man in Chicago met a woman on the Plenty of Fish dating site, arranging a meeting in an apartment building on the south side of the city. He followed the woman, whose name he didn't know, into a unit before realizing that the place had no electricity or heat.
As he made a prompt exit, he was met by a trio of men. They dragged him to another apartment, beat him with a metal pipe, removed his clothes and tied him up.
Somehow, he ended up freeing himself and ended up fighting back against Jyrail Gentry, one of the assailants, after the other members of the crew left. The police were called after residents noticed the brawl. When the police met the victim, he was left with only white long underwear and a t-shirt, both of which were covered in blood.
7 Triple Date Turns Into Triple Robbery
Nikkii Wagner, Alyssa Turner and a friend ended up in a horrible situation after they agreed to meet a man around an apartment complex on 122nd NW and Penn Street in Oklahoma City.
After arranging the date through the website Meetme.com, he showed up to the meeting in the parking lot along with a pair of other men who went ahead and robbed the three women.
They managed to get a picture of one of the robbers from his profile on the dating website. Incredibly, Alyssa recognized one of the attackers as a former classmate whose name she couldn't remember.
Alyssa said to KFOR news, “I told him I knew him and he asked ‘What’s my name?’ and I said ‘I don’t know.'” - something that may have saved her life.
6 Extortion in Dubai
A 32 year-old Indian sales executive with the initials N.K. set up a rendezvous with a 25 year-old Syrian woman named Kinda while working in Dubai. After chatting for a few days, they agreed to meet for a dinner date. To his surprise, instead of the woman, he ended up being confronted by her 22 year-old brother, D.D., who began to grill the Indian expat.
Brandishing a pair of handcuffs and claiming to be a police detective, the woman's "brother" began to extort funds from the sales executive through a series of threats. Eventually, N.K. recruited the a friend to lure the 22 year-old D.D. into a trap.
N.K.'s friend, S.K., posed as a potential date, contacting the same profile and arranging the same type of date. Instead of S.K., D.D. was greeted by the Dubai police, who arrested the scam artist on charges of making threats and extortion.
5 Romance at Arby's With a Side of Theft
The inappropriately named Jeffrey Mack chatted with Heather Dureen Hegre after connecting over MeetMe.com, arranging a date at Arby's after the two shared a solid conversation over the chat service.
They met at the parking lot and barely had time to enjoy the ambience before Heather asked Jeffrey to purchase a milkshake for her. He obliged, going to the drive-thru to pick up the gelatinous beverage. After he paid, Heather grabbed the wallet, which had two dollars inside, and sprinted away from the vehicle.
Jeffrey called 9-1-1, provided the cops with the necessary information about the suspect before arranging another date with her later that evening - again at Arby's. The police arrested her, ending the romance between the two and returning the wallet to its rightful owner.
4 First Date Drug Mule
The former deputy chief executive of the Maori Language Commission in New Zealand met a nice man online, communicating through social media outlets such as Facebook. As Sharon Armstrong and the unknown male became closer, the two decided to have a romantic first date in England.
However, before she left, he asked her to pick up some "sensitive documents" in Argentina while making the trip to England. In Buenos Aries, as she attempted to board a Biritsh Airways plane with these "sensitive documents", law enforcement found 5 kilos of 'Columbian marching powder' hidden in a secret compartment.
The man deleted his Facebook profile and disappeared while she was in jail, along with the Argentinians who gave her the suitcase.
3 Grindr Extortion in Philly
Police are warning users of apps such as Tinder and Grindr that these programs may inadvertently provide GPS info, accidentally providing the exact location of potential dates. One Grindr user, Anthony, found out how dangerous the app could be when he met Douglas Spady over the online dating app.
After taking very little time to get to know Douglas, Anthony sent his phone number and address to the potential date.
Unfortunately, Douglas was in the midst of using dating services to locate potential targets for his malicious crimes. Douglas took videos of Anthony, extorted the victim for money, physically assaulted him and demanded $200. Another victim of Douglas was sexually assaulted and robbed for over $3,000 in gift cards and cash from ATMs.
2 Tango Robbery in Philly
Kareem L. Daniels used the Tango video chat hookup app to lure a variety of victims, including Tamira, who was looking forward to meeting him after what appeared to be a promising conversation between the two.
After inviting him over to her house, he leapt out of his car with a gun and robbed Tamira, taking $700 from her and telling her to go back into her house.
This is another in a rash of criminal incidents involving online dating apps in Philadelphia through popular programs like Tinder and Grindr. Daniels remained on the loose for well over half of 2014, before police finally arrested him on January 14th, 2015, according to Philadelphia Inquirer records.
1 Robbed... by a Trio of Men
Another victim found through the MeetMe.com website ended up being Alex Castillo of the Minneapolis and St. Paul region. After chatting with a young woman for a while, he was invited to meet with her at a local apartment building in St. Paul.
Surveillance video shows the trio of men who showed up instead, two of them brandishing pistols while demanding Alex's personal items. They ended up getting away with his backpack, car and cell phone.
"At first I didn't want to give them my stuff," Alex said. "But when you got two guys with two guns I told them to take everything."
Investigators, as always, warned people to exercise caution while using social media websites to set up dates, nating that it "goes to show that for every social media platform that comes out there are people who are willing to use that to take advantage of others."