Following disturbing new reports, there is growing concern that gay men in South Africa are increasingly being targeted by criminals through online dating sites.
Last week, a Pretoria man claimed that he was defrauded of almost half a million rand through a contact that he met on the Gaydar gay dating site.
According to Eye Witness News (EWN), the 34-year-old said that he met the other man on the site and then later arranged to meet him in person several times.
He was then convinced to sign a contract and part with his money for a block trade fund investment. He claims that the money has not grown since and that he has been unable to get the funds back.
Another five Johannesburg men have since been reported to have been taken in by the same alleged scam, although it is not clear if they also came into contact with the scheme via Gaydar or other gay dating sites.
Victim, Andre Swanepoel, told EWN that he was aware of four other men who had been allegedly swindled out of millions. He urged people to “be on the lookout for a team of fraudsters who are tracking people to their homes to solicit money on trading platforms”.
Mambaonline received reports this week that some MeetMarket users have been targeted by a man or men who stole and used their credit cards after they met.
“He befriends you to steal from you,” said one alleged victim. “He stole two of my credit cards on Saturday 2 February 2013 and spent nearly R 6000 on them before I could stop them.”
Mambaonline has suspended the reported profiles and urges any victims to report the cases to the police and to Mambaonline at email@example.com.
Users of online dating sites were recently warned to be vigilant following reports that an alleged gang has been targeting, robbing and murdering gay men around the country.
Eight murders in Gauteng and one in Cape Town are under investigation as being possibly linked to the gang’s activities.
Three men have been arrested in connection with one of the attacks. Police are investigating if they were involved in the other murders.
Dawie Nel, Director of LGBT health and well-being group OUT, last year acknowledged that while gay men may enjoy the excitement of online dating they “need to be aware that there is a risk in meeting strangers and especially when inviting them into their homes.
“These risks include the possibility of being blackmailed, being targeted with false charges, theft and even being murdered,” he warned.
OUT has issued tips to help gay men reduce the risk of meeting other men for sexual liaisons which can be viewed here.