The dangers of digital dating

Posted at 9:56 PM, Nov 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-14 23:44:15-05

On average, women between the ages of 18-30 spend 79 minutes a day on dating apps, according to the dating site Badoo. Men sign on for 85 minutes a day.

One dangerous proposition could have put a 20-year-old college student - called "Dave" to protect his privacy - in prison for years, plus land him a spot on California's sex offender registry for life.

Dave said he matched with someone on a dating app, and they hit it off. He said she told him she was 18. 

"I directly asked her. She said she was 18 and I took it as that. I mean, I never assumed that she was under because I had asked, she had said it, and the website requires it," he said.

Like most tech-savvy singles, the successful SoCal undergrad spent three weeks exchanging in-app messages and snaps before meeting his new cyberspace companion at a popular hiking spot.

"I picked her up. We talked for a little bit. Things, you know, led to another... then the officer showed up," he said. "The officer asked me for my age. Obviously, I said 20. But when she had been asked, her whole body language changed. Her whole attitude changed. I thought, Why is she acting like this?"

Dave was shocked to find his digital date was 17 years old and was swiftly cuffed, arrested and charged.

"It was scary. I thought I was going away," he said.

Though it took months, all criminal charges were dropped.

You need valid ID to get into a club or bar, so should it also be required while signing up to look for love?

"Do not take for face value what you read on an app. It could be somebody else's picture. They could clearly lie about their age. If you're on the receiving end of that and they happen to be underage, you have to prove your innocence," said attorney Allison Treissl.

Having experienced this firsthand, Dave said he'll be more cautious in the future.

"It's scary. Now I know it can happen. It happens quite often, I imagine. Not as many people are as lucky as I am," he said.