US Embassy issues security alert, warns of deaths involving ‘online dating applications’ in Colombia

Aerial view taken of the city of Medellin. (Credit: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images)

The U.S. Embassy in Bogota issued a security alert Wednesday stating that it is aware of eight suspicious deaths of private U.S. citizens in Medellin, Colombia, between November and Dec. 31, 2023.  

According to the government agency, the deaths appear to involve either involuntary drugging overdoses or suspected homicides.  

"At this time, it is not believed these deaths are linked as each involved distinct circumstances, however several of the deaths point to possible drugging, robbery, and overdose, and several involve the use of online dating applications," the embassy wrote in the security alert on Jan. 10. 

According to the Tourism Observatory of the District Personnel of Medellin, the number of thefts committed against foreign visitors (excluding Venezuelans) increased 200% in the third trimester of 2023 compared to the previous year, and violent deaths of foreign visitors increased 29%. Most of the 2023 violent death victims were U.S. citizens.

"Criminals use dating apps to lure victims to meet in public places such as hotels, restaurants, and bars, and then later assault and rob them," the agency continued, adding, "Numerous U.S. citizens in Colombia have been drugged, robbed, and even killed by their Colombian dates." 

Over the last year, the Embassy said it has seen an increase in reports of incidents involving the use of online dating applications to lure victims, typically foreigners, for robbery by force or using sedatives to drug and rob individuals.  

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In addition, they said they regularly received reports of these types of incidents occurring in major cities, including, but not limited to, Medellin, Cartagena and Bogota.  

The embassy said that U.S. citizens should be vigilant, maintain heightened situational awareness, and incorporate strong personal security practices into their activities. You can read the alert’s actions to take here.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.