PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Criminals and catfishing are two things people generally want to avoid in the world of online and smartphone dating.
Phony and misleading profiles definitely make it challenging to find a mate in the digital age, but there are ways to protect oneself from dating app dangers.
At 24 years old, single and raising a 2-year-old son on her own, Zari Sue has been playing the game for three years now and has been burned several times.
There was the jail inmate she said somehow messaged her, asking her for some commissary cash, and there's the time she was catfished by a 60-year-old man, passing himself off as his 25-year-old son.
"He uses his son. That's how he says he gets women. He says he prefers women that are younger than him," Sue said.
Four men using the dating app Grindr were indicted on hate crime charges May 10 in Aubrey, Texas, for allegedly luring gay men via the dating app, then robbing and beating them.
Jarrod Roberts was charged May 27, 2015, in Gainsville with stalking two women he met through the dating app Tinder.
With an estimated 38 million single Americans who are currently involved in online dating, there's a brand new app that promises to protect you from registered sex offenders and criminals.
It's called Gatsby, and it can scan millions of publicly available criminal records before you're allowed to post your profile.
"With online dating sites, you're available to everyone," Gatsby CEO and founder Joe Penora said.
To ensure that you stay safe when meeting someone in person, be sure to:
-Always meet in a busy place
-Use your own transportation
-Don't meet up late at night
-Check social media to see if they're serial daters or partiers.
Sue follows those rules and now uses Gatsby with zero dating drama.
"I feel like I can open up more," she said.
Dating apps are under increased pressure to protect their users, and some now require that a dating profile be linked to other social media as a way to verify someone's identity.
To further protect yourself, hold off on sharing your full name, phone number and email until you are fully comfortable with someone.