Vancouver Police warn people to stay vigilant when online dating. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

VIDEO: Vancouver Police urge caution when looking for love online

Detachment asks victims of online dating related crime to come forward

More people than ever are trying to find love online and the Vancouver Police are worried that crime is escalating to match.

Sex crimes unit Det. Const. Michelle Grandbois launched the police’s new campaign aimed at safeguarding those trying their luck on dating sites and apps.

“There is no shortage of stories about bad dates gone wrong,” says Grandbois. “People dating online, particularly women, are finding themselves at a higher risk for sexual assaults, violent crime, and fraud.”

Grandbois noted that while the police can, and are, providing help to victims who come forward, there are too many crimes that go unreported.

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She noted that she “would never call it a mistake that a woman makes” but that too many people give out too much personal information online, making them easy for predators to track down.

Paid sites offer no more protection than free ones, she added.

“A predator will just go onto multiple sites and just adapt their profile,” she said

“He may sound like your soulmate but he’s still a stranger,” Grandbois cautioned. “If it feels wrong, it probably is.”

Grandbois gave out some tips for those trying their luck online:

  • provide as little personal information as possible on your profile
  • choose a profile photo that you haven’t used anywhere else online – it prevents someone from doing a google image search and finding out other information about you
  • create a separate email address just for your account and for corresponding with potential dates
  • take a screenshot of their profile picture and save it to your desktop – do a Google image search
  • if possible, use a separate phone number for any phone conversations, or make the calls from a blocked number
  • Google search the name they have given you
  • arrange to meet in a public place away from where you live
  • tell a friend where you’ve gone and who you’re meeting, and give them any contact information your date has provided to you
  • if your date has told you where they live or work, do some checking to confirm
  • consider double dating the first few times prior to spending time alone and not in public – ask to meet their friends and see how they interact with others
  • if anyone you’re dating asks you for money or to provide banking information, your alarm bells should be ringing… loudly