Florida robberies linked to online dating apps

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BARTOW, Fla. (WOOD/WFLA) – Investigators in a Florida community are warning people about the dangers of looking for love online, after four people were robbed and carjacked in as many weeks.

The Bartow Police Department said the victims used online dating apps.

Royshawn Scarlett was among them. The soft-spoken man turned to Kik and HiFi in search of a romance. Instead, the 21-year-old came close to dying on a date.>>Target 8: Sexual predator warns parents about ‘kik’ app

Scarlett told WFLA he thought he did everything right. He didn’t share a vehicle with his date; instead, he picked a mutual meeting place in Bartow. But when he got there, the person he planned to meet had different plans for him.

Scarlett’s date, along with three other men, attacked him. They ordered him to lie face-down on the concrete and they put a gun to the back of his head.

“They’re going to kill me,” he said he told himself that night. “Please Lord, help me.” He recollected through tears.

The thieves took Scarlett’s wallet, cellphone and car. When the men left, Scarlett ran. He said no one would help him as he banged on multiple doors in the neighborhood, begging for help.Finally, a woman called the police for him.

Investigators are looking for leads in four cases, which all happened in Bartow to online daters. As they continue their investigation, authorities shared these safety tips for people who are part of the online dating world:

  • Meet in a well-lit, public place.
  • Bring along a friend at the beginning of the date.
  • Always let a loved one know exactly where you are going.

The original version of this story was first published on WFLA.com.

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