Last week 10News WTSP told you about a man who was attacked after he met woman he met on a popular dating website. Now, Bartow police are reporting four more attacks -- that's in one month.
Police said these robbers have been using Plentyoffish.com to lure relationship seekers. Relationship experts says these victims tend to be easy prey.
"The people who are online are very vulnerable. Most of them that are on there legitimately are singles looking for a relationship. They are feeling sad, depressed, and vulnerable that they are not in a relationship. So they are out there searching," says Nancy Wall who is the only certified matchmaker in the Bay area.
These online daters didn't find love, but bad guys. Bartow police say these attackers met their victims online and then agreed to meet at park on the east side of the city. Soon after they arrived, they are ambushed by many attackers and robbed.
Wall says, "It doesn't surprise me. It's a very scary situation out there. Everyone and anyone can be online and profess to be anyone they want. It doesn't have to be accurate."
Police Police say the four attacks happened in a public place. Experts recommend that if you want to meet someone from an online conversation, go to a public place that is populated. The attacks happened in empty parks.
"You do take a big risk because people who are not honest and ethical people can be on there. They may be on there just to advantage of people," says Wall. She says the risk factor for danger goes up exponentially when it comes to online dating saying, "You have to be very, very careful. My clients tell me it needs to be a full-time for them, to try to connect, to figure out who they want to connect with."
This matchmaker thinks the number of attacks could be higher saying victims are too embarrassed to report it. "That we don't hear about or know about because people are embarrassed. There are people being taking advantage of financially and people being attack physically" says Wall.
Safety experts says there are things people can do if they choose to meet people online:
-- During your conversations get identifiers from them, like where they work, like asking for their friends contact information, etc.
-- Find out where they go to church or civic organization and then check them out.
-- Don't ever leave with them until you know them better.
-- But above all don't let your guard down.