Why internet dating is dangerous

Often on multiple apps at once, users can swipe through dozens of profiles every minute and plan multiple dates, whether in hopes of a love match or a hook-up.

Decisions to meet arise from limited information: A convenient location; a sultry glance captured in pixels; a mutual interest in “banter.” In 2014, Tinder users were spending as long as 90 minutes a day on the site.

But Leech wants other protections, like giving users alerts about potential risks before they ever begin chatting with strangers.

Is this scaremongering, or is online dating truly putting users in danger?

Some wait for the perfect prey, others simply target someone that has previously been victimised and is vulnerable, or lonely.

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Internet dating has been portrayed mostly with "success stories", because many of those who have had bad experiences are too embarrassed to talk about them openly, thinking they are the rarity, or the "unlucky one". What's tricky here is people WANT to believe they are going to find what they are looking for (nothing wrong with that) and DON'T want to believe someone may be lying to them or playing games.

Over the past four years, 17 people in the Greater Manchester area have reported being raped after using one of two apps, Grindr and Tinder, according to police statistics obtained by Leech through a freedom of information request.

A total of 58 people were victims of online dating-related crimes in those four years, some of them sexual. For context, in 2012 the area had an overall average of 243 sexual assaults and rapes every month.) Many apps offer a page of advice for safe dating.

But despite the potential risks, two experts in the field say there is no need to shy away from online dating as long as precautions are taken.

Nick Tsinonis, co-founder of Scamalytics, which creates software designed to prevent scammers from targeting people on online dating sites, offered a range of advice as to how to stay safe while interacting with a prospective date online.

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