October 4, 2017 4:20 pm
Updated: October 4, 2017 9:43 pm

Vancouver police launching campaign to help those looking for love online stay safe

With the increase of reports of incidents involving online dating, Vancouver police are launching a campaign to help users stay safe.

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Looking for love online can be tricky, but Vancouver police are warning that it can also sometimes be dangerous.

That’s why the VPD has launched a new campaign to help online daters increase their personal safety and offer tips online about how users can decrease the likelihood that they will become victims of assault or fraud.

Police said stories like one of a 46-year-old Vancouver woman — who went on a first date with a person she met online, woke up without her clothes on and no memory of the previous night — are becoming increasingly common.

In another instance, a 28-year-old woman who met a man online and invited him for tea was sexually assaulted.

READ MORE: Canadians are guilty of oversharing on dating sites, survey finds

The problem, police say, is that most crimes related to online dating are never reported. That’s starting to change, but police want more victims to come forward.

“In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in reports of sexual assault that initiated with contact on an online dating site or social media,” Detective Const. Michelle Grandbois said.

WATCH: Woman shares story of getting duped in online dating scam


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“People dating online, particularly women, are finding themselves at a higher risk for sexual assaults, violent crime, and fraud. But the crimes are under-reported and we want to hear from victims so they can access resources, and help prevent others from being victimized.”

A 2011 Leger Marketing survey found 36 per cent of Canadians between 18 and 34 went looking for love online. The rise in popularity and problems is really what prompted police to launch the campaign.

Investigators say it’s often women who are finding themselves at higher risk for sexual assault, violent crimes and fraud, adding predators are seeking out the platforms as a means to select potential victims.

Some of the tips the new campaign offers to online daters include:

  • provide as little personal information as possible on dating profiles and social media sites;
  • provide as little personal information as possible on dating profiles and social media sites;
  • use a photo you haven’t used anywhere else online so someone cannot find you through a Google image search;
  • Google someone you’re going to meet to look for background information;
  • don’t “friend” potential dates on social media – you could give strangers unlimited access to information about you, your family, and friends; and
  • meet dates in a public place and let someone know where you are going and who you are meeting

Skip the screen, get outside, says dating coach

Dating coach Eddy Baller says many people aren’t truthful in their online dating profile.

While online dating has it’s benefits, Baller says there are drawbacks. He encourages clients to skip the screen and get social the old fashioned way.

“There’s lots of people outside,” Baller said.

“As soon as you step outside, you go for a walk, there’s people everywhere and you could actually do more than just get dates, you could actually make yourself into a better person overall.”

For more information on how to stay safe while online dating, head to the VPD’s safe dating website at www.catchyou.ca.

WATCH: How to navigate the world of online dating

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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