Alleged murderer Chad Marshall Wilcox

A man in the US has reportedly been lured to his death by another man who pretended to be a sex date and robbed and killed him.

According to AP, the body of Manuel Hakimian, 36, was discovered by his family in his apartment in Norristown, Pennsylvania on 21 September.

Police say that he was murdered by Chad Marshall Wilcox, 28, who posted an ad seeking sex with men on the Craigslist website with the intention of robbing victims to pay for his heroin habit.

Wilcox allegedly tied Hakimian up and slit his throat before escaping with the victim’s cellphone, computer, wallet and car. Police tracked down and arrested the suspect after he used Hakimian’s credit cards in five states.

“I think there is a cautionary tale that can be taken from this case,” said Montgomery County Deputy District Attorney Thomas W. McGoldrick. “Meeting strangers online is terribly dangerous, not just for kids but adults too. You never know who’s on the other end of that Internet connection.”

Last week, British police warned gay men that they were vulnerable after a man was robbed when he used the popular online gay hook-up app Grindr to set up a date.

The 26-year-old man arranged to see the “date” at his London home. After arriving, the stranger kept texting on his phone before deciding to leave. When the confused victim opened the door to let him out he discovered an accomplice wielding a cattle prod.

He was pushed back into his flat and the two men threatened him with the cattle prod, stealing cash and a laptop before fleeing.

While the victim, who has not been named, was not physically hurt, he was said to be “very shaken” by the attack.

Detective Constable April Smart, of Westminster CID warned: “I would urge everyone who uses the services of online dating apps and sites to take steps to help them to stay safe whilst meeting strangers.”


South African victim Barney Van Heerden

Police have released CCTV footage of the alleged attackers but they have yet to be arrested.

The incidents appear similar to a spate of murders of gay men in South Africa between 2010 and 2013, most of whom were robbed and killed in their homes. It was suspected that the victims may have met their killer or killers on online dating services.

In October last year, two men, Mthokozisi Ndlovu and Themba Maseko, were found guilty of killing one of the victims, Barney Van Heerden, during a group sexual encounter at his Johannesburg home in September 2011.

They were sentenced to 20 years in prison but it has never been confirmed if they were connected to the other murders. Since their arrest the attacks appear to have come to an end.

Gay and bisexual men were warned by the SAPS and LGBT rights groups to remain wary of who they meet online and allow into their homes.

Here are some tips to help you be safer when setting up online dates.

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