POLICE have warned people looking for love online to ‘exercise caution’ after a Burton man was jailed for catching victims in honeytraps via web based dating sites.
Bob Champeau, of Staffordshire Police, issued the plea for people to ‘be careful’ after Andre Sinclair (pictured), of Horninglow Road, was sent down for his part in a gang twhich took advantage of men arranging dates via adult websites.
He told the Mail: “This isn’t a problem we encounter often in this area, however wherever possible when people are arranging to meet strangers they should make somebody aware of the location and exercise vigilance and caution.
“Dating websites are a popular way of meeting new people and while I don’t want to discourage legitimate use of these sites people should exercise caution and take care.
“We advise people to make sure initial meetings are in a public place, for example bars or restaurants.”
The advice comes as 25-year-old former security guard Sinclair starts his four-year sentence.
Sinclair and the gang lured unlucky Romeos into alleways before robbing them of cash.
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police offered a few top tips with how to ‘stay safe’ while navigating the hostile waters of online dating.
He said: “Follow your chosen site’s instructions.
“Beware if you do meet someone online if things move very quickly. Stay in control.
“Do not move outside you site’s own messaging system. Always report abuse to the site administrator immediately as online dating sites take this seriously.
“If you are in any doubt about the veracity of someone you’ve met online break off contact immediately.
“We would also urge people to use a reputable site and to never reveal private or personal details.
“Make sure that you meet in a busy public place and always stay sober. Before you go out plan your route home. Make sure you use your common sense and instinct.”