Sexual predators increasingly find victims on dating sites, police warn

TORONTO – Online dating can open new doors for singles looking for a chance at finding love, but dangerous risks can sometimes exist on the other side of the screen.

An Edmonton woman shared her story with Global News on the condition of anonymity.

Friends encouraged her to try online dating websites in the winter of 2012.

“My friend was actually the one who signed me up to all these different sites,” she said. “She wanted me to find the right person, she was very detailed in what I was looking for and what kind of person I wanted.”

READ MORE: Online romance scams bilk Canadians out of nearly $14M in 2014

She met a man on the popular dating website Plenty of Fish. After chatting online for two weeks, she decided to give him a shot at a date. The woman said she was confident in choosing a public location at a local outdoor festival.

Story continues below advertisement

“I figured – yes – we can meet for coffee that seems safe enough.”

After grabbing hot chocolates, he asked her to join him in his car to warm up.

“It was really cold -30 or something… It was logical,” she said.

The date then took a horrible turn.

“We were talking for a little bit and all of a sudden he was fumbling around with clothing and all of a sudden I kept saying no.”

“At the end he had said very clearly that I was not a virgin anymore.”

The woman says the man manipulated her by saying he shared common interests like her Christian faith.

Plenty of Fish refused to comment on the incident, or go into detail on the sites protocols on sexual assault.

READ MORE: Digital world opens doors for fraudsters: Better Business Bureau

Retired Toronto Police sex crimes detective, Suzanne Kernohan says online dating provides a new hunting ground for sexual predators.

“Don’t be afraid to sit down at the table and say, ‘okay this might sound silly but I don’t know who you are can I have a look at your driver’s license?’” Kernohan said.

Story continues below advertisement

Earlier this month Toronto Police issued a release urging the public to exercise caution when using online dating sites.

Const. Jenniferjit Sidhu says be extra careful when sending photos or attachments.

“If you send any photographs to the person that you’ve met online make sure the geo-tagging is taken off,” said Sidhu.

The Edmonton woman who reached out to Global News she is hoping her story will reach other women.

“It makes me angry that somebody can take something from someone even if you weren’t a virgin, they can take something from you without your permission and violate you in such a way that it goes right to your soul… It changes you in a lot of ways and touches parts of your personality and you are not the same anymore and you feel broken.”

Sponsored content