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Monday, June 21, 2021

Teenage dating app users arrested following blackmail, robbery

A meeting arranged via an online dating application, resulting in blackmail and robbery, led to the arrests of an 18-year-old man and a 16-year-old-boy in Canberra on Saturday 7 November.

On Thursday 5 November, the male victim and offenders arranged to meet up on Friday night.

Upon arriving at the chosen destination in Hawker, the victim was approached by two male offenders who threatened him with a knife and forced him to withdraw $100 from an ATM.

They went on to steal things from the victim’s car and demanded he meet them again to provide more money.  

ACT Policing Detective Matt Reynolds said local police had previously investigated incidents where people found themselves in trouble after arranging to meet a stranger, however, blackmail was uncommon.

He suggested the offenders may have used a fake profile to lure the victim.

“Sadly, with more people using online dating sites and online applications, some people have decided to use those services to manipulate, threaten or rob others,” he said.

“Intimidating someone for property and cash is disgraceful and unacceptable, and when this matter was reported to police, it received a swift response.”

Detective Reynolds reminded the public to act with caution when arranging to meet someone through an online dating site and to choose a safe place to meet.

“As with any online service, people need to remember they may be dealing with someone using the internet to take advantage of others.”

ACT Policing used online resources and investigative tools to identify the two young people, who were not known to police.

Detective Reynolds said the relationship between the alleged offenders was not clear.

The 18-year-old was arrested in a hotel in Narrabundah and the 16-year-old was arrested in his home in Hawker. Both were charged with armed robbery and blackmail.

Both alleged offenders will face court this morning, Monday 9 November. The man will appear before the ACT Magistrates Court and the boy will appear before the ACT Children’s Court.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre published practical steps to help you stay safe when dating online.

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