KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Online dating has become the new norm for many single people and many don’t often think about the potential dangers associated with meeting up with someone you’ve never met in person before.
- Officials warns of online dating dangers after man was ambushed
- Victim met up with woman he was talking to online
- Victim was ambushed by 3 people when meeting up with the woman
Bienvenido Hernández is shocked to hear about the incident that occurred at the Stop And Shop on US 192 in Kissimmee.
“It just takes me by surprise,” he said.
It was supposed to be a meet up between a young man and a woman he had been chatting with on a dating website, but it turned into something else. The victim said he was ambushed by three individuals at the Stop And Shop convenience store, pretending to be law enforcement.
Video of incident:
They pulled out a hand gun and told him he was under arrest. The men escorted the victim to his hotel nearby and demanded money from him. What these three suspects didn't know was the whole thing was caught on tape, through the surveillance cameras of Sevilla Plaza.
This time it happened through the website Plenty of Fish but these kinds of incidents can happen with any website like OkCupid, Match, or even Craigslist.
“Anybody can pretend to be anybody online. You never know who you’re really talking to so please, please be very careful meeting people through dating apps or online services,” said Major Jacob Ruiz with the Osceola County Sheriff's Office. “If that is something you're going to take part in, understand the dangers you could be facing. And criminals know that, this is why they use this format to target the next victim.”
On Target Web Solutions is an Orlando based digital marketing agency that helps brands thrive and grow their online presence. Tom Jelneck, the president, shared tips for online daters like try going on group dates first and also have a phone conversation before meeting in person.
“I always advise people to keep their anti virus and software up to date on their machine because believe it or not some of these bots can send a malicious link through that looks really enticing,” Jelneck said. “And you wanna click it and you wanna get to know this person even better but a lot of times that is a phishing attempt to get more data out of you.”
Hernandez who hangs out in this area often hopes the three suspects are caught.
“It could be me or anybody else that I know around here,” he added.
The suspects are facing charges of kidnapping, armed robbery, and impersonation of a law enforcement officer. If you have any info, call Crimeline at 1800-423-TIPS.