Colombia has long held an iffy reputation for travelers. On one hand, it’s an amazing destination to visit.
On the other hand, many travelers have claimed they feel the need to keep their head on a swivel in certain areas.
Some of the more popular cities to visit are Medellin, Bogota and Cartagena to name a select few. The U.S. Embassy just issued a nationwide security alert this morning for all travelers in Colombia.
New Security Alert
Tragically, it has been reported from November 1 – December 31, 2023 8 U.S. tourists lost their lives by being duped by criminals.
There are a variety of ways tourists are targeted in Colombia. So much so, there is a common saying in Colombia that tourists should know.
‘No Dar Papaya’ translates to ‘don’t give papaya’. Essentially, do your best to not stand out and make yourself a target.
Keep valuables out of plain sight while going about your day, and stick to tourist-friendly neighborhoods.
Advice from the U.S. Embassy:
- Never physically resist a robbery attempt – your life is always more valuable than possessions
- Trust your intuition – if something feels off, stick to your gut
- Tell someone you trust of your plans when going out
A Fatal Scam
Colombia is no stranger to crime and the U.S. Embassy is most certainly aware. So why the sudden change in tone?
It’s quite alarming to lose 8 lives in such a short span. Medellin, in particular, has become a hotspot for U.S. tourists for its affordable costs and year-round splendid weather, among other digital nomad perks.
The world is a beautiful place, but there are bad apples everywhere. The same goes for Medellin as well as the rest of the country.
With digital nomadism and solo travel being so popular, the road can get lonely at times. With our phones glued to our hips, the easy thing to do is get on dating apps, as they are now universal.
It’s no longer a societal taboo to meet up with strangers, or even ride with them, but perhaps the latest scam will raise red flags again.
The U.S. Embassy in Bogota is sounding the alarm on dating apps in Colombia as U.S. travelers are being duped far worse than your typical ‘catfish’.
Lured in to meeting in a public place as most dates go, as the night goes on, victims were lead away from public view and assaulted, drugged, robbed and even killed in some instances.
Not all 8 reported deaths have been attributed to dating apps, but “several” have been linked.
How To Remain Vigilant Dating In Colombia
Other than keeping a heightened sense of awareness, the Embassy notes you should be one step ahead if you sense you’re on a date from hell.
Staying in public view is key as violent crimes typically take place in isolation, such as residences and hotel rooms.
When possible, inform the concierge of your hotel or residence of a visitor and ask them to obtain valid identification beforehand if you have a new visitor.
Sedatives have been used, so it’s important to keep an eye on what you’re drinking and keep your phone within reach, as electronics are a commonly stolen item.
Uptick In Crime
According to the Tourism Observatory of the District Personnel of Medellin, crime against foreigners increased 200 percent toward the end of 2023 when compared to 2022 data.
That’s a big jump that raises eyebrows. What’s even more concerning is many deaths deemed ‘violent’ were U.S. citizens in 2023.
With the latest alert, it appears these unfortunate trends are carrying over into 2024, with the dating app scam becoming the most prevalent tactic.
Here is the kicker – the U.S. Embassy admits crime often goes unreported due to victim embarrassment. While Medellin is the hotspot for crimes against tourists, with the Embassy’s knowledge of unreported crimes, they felt it was necessary to issue an alert for the whole country with Medellin, Bogota, and Cartagena being highlighted.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com