8 'Suspicious' Tourist Deaths Prompt Dating App Warning

US Embassy says the Americans died after meeting someone online in Colombia
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2024 3:46 PM CST
8 'Suspicious' Tourist Deaths Prompt Dating App Warning
The US Embassy in Bogota, Colombia, foreground.   (Getty / BrasilNut1)

Using a dating app in Colombia could be fatal, the US Embassy has warned Americans. In November and December, eight tourists from the US had what the embassy in Bogota called "suspicious deaths," the BBC reports. The alert posted by the embassy on Wednesday said criminals are using dating apps to lure tourists to restaurants, bars, and other public places to meet someone they had contact with online. Victims then have been robbed, assaulted, or killed, the alert says. "These types of crimes routinely go underreported as victims are embarrassed and do not want to follow through with the judicial process," officials wrote.

One of the victims was Tou Ger Xiong, 50, an American comedian and activist. He was kidnapped in Colombia while on a date with a woman he met online in November, per KARE. He was killed after contacting his brother and asking for $2,000, saying he was "in a bit of a situation here." Ger Xiong's body was found in a wooded area north of Medellin. US officials don't believe the eight deaths are connected, though they seem to be homicides or caused by involuntary drug overdoses, per USA Today. The crimes have been reported in Medellin, Cartagena, and Bogota.

The number of robberies of foreign visitors rose 200% in the last three months of 2023, and deaths rose 29%, per the BBC. The US embassy warned that trying to fight off robbers increases the likelihood of being killed. The embassy offers advice to Americans traveling to Colombia here. (More Colombia stories.)

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