British Columbia

Online dating? Vancouver police warn of potential predators

VPD launches 'Catch You,' a campaign aimed at helping online daters increase personal safety

Tina Lovgreen - CBC News

October 04, 2017

The Vancouver Police Department has launched a campaign to warn of the potential dangers of online dating. (Getty images)

The Vancouver Police Department has launched a new safety campaign aimed at those looking for love online.

"We've compiled tips on catchyou.ca, that offer information on how users can reduce the likelihood they will become victims of assault or fraud," said Const. Anne-Marie Clark. 

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In recent years, police say they've seen an increase in the number of sexual assault reports that were initiated through online dating or social media. 

"He may sound like your soulmate but he is still a stranger," said Det.-Const. Michelle Grandbois. 

"Take control of your safety online and reduce the chances of meeting somebody that is nothing like you were expecting," she said.

Grandbois said no particular web site is worse or safer than any other. 

Online Dating Safety Tips

'Women at higher risk' 

"Particularly on dating sites, women, are finding themselves at higher risk of sexual assault, violent crimes and fraud," said Grandbois.

She was also quick to point out that these crimes were not the fault of the victims. 

"I would never call it a mistake that a women makes," she said.

"This is a legitimate thing. Lots of people meet online, on dating sites, and it's unfortunate predators have found this out, and it's a perfect platform for them to look through and basically select potential victims," she said.

The VPD said it has a strong suspicion these crimes are being under-reported and says it's why it launched the campaign on Wednesday, urging victims to come forward.

"It's never too late to report any crime to the police," said Grandbois.

"We want to hear from victims, so they can access the resources and help prevent others from being victimized," she said.

"We can't help what we don't know ...  please come forward and report to police."

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