Warning about dating apps after recent violent crimes

Click play to watch the report from Action News
April 25, 2014 7:00:29 AM PDT
Dating sites are now on the police radar as a new tool criminals are using to lure in potential prey.

At least two individuals in Philadelphia are accused of robbing and in one case physically assaulting multiple victims they met online, and both are still at large.

Now police are warning that GPS enabled dating apps are making it even easier for offenders to identify how close they are to their next victim.

Grindr, Tinder, Tango and Skout are just a few of the apps helping singles meet others based on one main factor - location, location, location.

Elyssa Drucker tells us, "It's a little creepy because people know where you are and someone can find you just without even talking to them or knowing them."

The GPS feature on some sites identifies people who are online as close as a few hundred feet away. A few clicks and strangers can instantly hook-up... with few details, besides a picture and a first name.

That's how Anthony says he was first introduced to the man police are looking for - 26-year-old Douglas Spady. "I liked what I saw and I just kind of, I sent him my phone number and address and told him to meet me there in an hour," he said.

Anthony says Spady posed as a possible love interest on the site Grindr, but he claims Spady really had another goal in mind.

"On the way out he turned around and said now are you going to pay me my money," Anthony said.

Anthony claims Spady took intimate videos of him to use as blackmail. He allegedly demanded $200 and physically assaulted him. Anthony, like many victims, was too embarrassed to file a police report.

He explains, "When I look back, there are things I overlooked, but I took my chances anyway."

About a week later, surveillance video of another incident was released by Philadelphia Police. They say Spady beat and raped a tourist visiting Philadelphia who he also met on Grindr. Spady allegedly then forced the man to pay him a total of $3,000 in cash withdrawn from ATMs and through purchased gift cards.

Philadelphia Police Lieutenant Robert Otto tells us, "I think that anyone should use extreme caution when going on this dating site or any other."

Police have a warrant out for Spady's arrest. They also provided a picture exclusively to Action News of another accused criminal named Kareem L. Daniels, who they warn is using a site called Tango to track down multiple victims.

"I liked what I saw and I liked the fact that he actually wanted to go out on a date," said an alleged victim.

This victim, we are calling Tamira, met Daniels on Tango, which has a twist - you can use it to speak with potential daters via video. But when Daniels arrived at her house, police say he robbed her of $700.

Tamira says, "He came from out of his car and pulled out a gun and told me to go in my house."

Police have now issued a warrant for Daniels' arrest and want you to help them find him.

Lieutenant Otto tells Action News, "I think this is something he has been doing and will continue to do unless he is caught."

But despite the potential dangers, Tinder and Grindr have millions and millions of users logging in across the world, enticed by the instant ability to meet hundreds of people nearby at a single swipe.

Action News had a producer set up an account, sat in Center City, and in a matter of 90 minutes she had over 100 matches - many willing to meet up after just a few casual questions.

Police say you should always meet in a public place where other people will be around and even suggest asking for identification to make sure the person you are meeting is who they say they are.

Philadelphia Police have issued the following tips for using dating apps:

- Use caution when meeting with a stranger
- Always meet for the first few times in a public place
- Do not back to your home and if possible bring friends along
- Ask for ID to make sure the person you are meeting is who they say they are
- Always trust your gut

Grindr issued a statement to Action News, which reads:

"Grindr is highly committed to the safety and security of all our members and have a number safeguards in place, including our strict photo and profile content guidelines, privacy policy, safety tips, detailed user agreements and terms of service. We also requires users to verify their accounts by providing a valid email address and creating a password.

We recommend users review the safety tips that we've developed (LINK: Grindr.com). Furthermore, we rely on the community to help us keep Grindr safe by reporting any profile that does not follow our guidelines.

As a company, we treat all reports of crime very seriously. If we are contacted by the authorities about any investigation, we fully cooperate with their requests."

Tango also issued a statement to Action News:

"In terms of location information or GPS detection, Tango members are always free to accept or block access to their location information. Similar to any app that has GPS functionality, users can switch off access to their location at any time through their device settings menu."

If you have any information on Spady's or Daniels' whereabouts, please contact the Philadelphia Police at 215-686-TIPS.


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