WINNIPEG — Police have arrested a second person in connection to a ‘catfishing’ attack that left a Winnipeg man in hospital nearly a year ago.
Winnipeg police said a 30-year-old man arranged an in-person meeting with a woman he met online. The two met up on July 23, 2016 at a residence in the North End.
However, when he arrived there were two people there, a man and a 17-year-old woman.
“A second male arrived who attacked the (victim),” Cst. Tammy Skrabek said. “Stabbing him once in the lower body, assaulting him and robbing him of personal items along with his car keys.”
The victim was also forced to ingest a substance.
“The male was forced to ingest a noxious substance whether that be drugs, it could be alcohol. It did alter his well being,” Cst. Skrabek said.
Police said he was then driven to the north Perimeter Highway and the car was driven into a ditch. The suspects stole the man’s personal belongings and forced him to hand over the pin to his bank account.
On July 31, 2016 a 17-year-old girl was arrested and charged with three counts of robbery, forcible confinement, assault with a weapon and kidnapping and other offences.
“She was also charged with another similar but unrelated offence at that time,” Cst. Skrabek said. “I have a strong suspicion that there’s probably a number of other incidents that aren’t reported to police.”
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On Wednesday, a 20-year-old man was arrested and charged with similar offences.
Both were also charged with a unique offence of “administer noxious thing with intent to endager life or cause bodily harm.
Police are still searching for other suspects and believe there may have been other victims who have not come forward.
“This type of online “catfishing” as it’s known, is not uncommon. People arrange these dates online to target victims particularly for money or other items,” Cst. Skrabek said. “Anytime people feel unsafe about a situation they are in on a prearranged date… get out. Feel free to leave without an excuse. You don’t need an excuse to leave.”
A similar case occurred in April, when a man was lured to a location through an online dating site only to be stabbed and robbed in an attack that was live streamed on social media.
Online dating experts said there are a number of red flags people should watch out for.
Be cautious if someone only has one photo on their profile and won’t send you any others.
In a world of Snapchat, FaceTime and Skype, experts warn that if someone doesn’t want to video chat they could be hiding something, especially when it comes to the younger generation.
“There are some bad people out there that are looking to scam you out of money and pretend they are somebody they are not,” dating and relationship expert Laura Bilotta said. “I think people always need a reminder about what they should be doing.”
Bilotta also warned online daters to be careful about how much information they post about themselves online.
“You don’t want to tell people where you work or give them your last name so they can look you up and find out too much information about you,” Bilotta said.
Other tips included making sure you don’t meet someone in a private place or home for the first time. Choose a public meeting place and make sure you let a friend or family member know where you are going and when you expect to be home.