A 40-year-old named A. Clark was recently arrested on suspicion of two sexual assaults that occurred on April 13 and 14. It’s believed that Clark used dating apps to meet women whom he lied to about having entertainment industry connections. He allegedly told the women he was a photographer in order to lure them into his home.
This isn’t the first time Clark has run afoul with the law. As a matter of fact, he’s already a convicted sex offender, though the victims in his previous crimes were minors. In 2003, Clark was found guilty of sexually assaulting two minors and was required to register as a sex offender. In 2014, 11 years later, Clark was again convicted of a sex crime – this time child molestation – and returned to prison. He was released on parole in March of 2017.
Currently, Clark is being held in lieu of $1.2 million bail, according to the LAPD.
There are Risks Associated with Online Dating
Dating apps can be a fantastic way to meet people you otherwise may never come into contact with in your day-to-day life. However, these sites are meant for adults, and minors should never use them. While most sites have age limits associated with their use, there’s no real way to enforce it, and minors can (and do) get on them from time-to-time, therefore, parents need to be mindful of that fact as more dating sites are popping up all of the time.
If you’re of age and have had an interest in using dating apps or websites in order to meet new people, here are a few important precautions you should take to help ensure your safety.
Plan Ahead and Maintain Control
No matter for how long you’ve chatted or spoken over the phone with someone, treat your first meet-up like a blind date. Pick a public, well-trafficked location, such as a restaurant or coffee shop, and meet there. Never go someplace private, secluded, or into their home, no matter how much they may ask you to. You don’t owe anyone anything; if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t go.
Avoid Giving Out Personal Information
This one is especially pertinent when you first begin speaking with a prospective date over the internet. Avoid giving them information they can use to track you down in the real world. If you talk about your job, don’t let them know where or when you work. Also, giving out your phone number is a huge no-no. Instead, use a Google Voice phone number. You can easily download the app no matter which brand of phone you use, and when they call that number, it will ring on your end as though they’d called your actual number. It is way easier to block someone who is creeping you out using a Google phone number than it is trying to do it with your actual number.
Never Give People Money
This one might seem obvious, but there’s a reason this warning was added to the list. Just like email phishing scams, Nigerian Princes love trolling dating sites looking for lovelorn souls to exploit. If someone you’re speaking to tries to get you to send them money, no matter how trivial the amount, it’s almost certainly a scammer. If it isn’t, well, is that really someone with whom you want to go on a date?
Give the Details to a Friend
Before you meet anyone for the first time, make sure one or more people know where you’ll be going, who you’ll be meeting, and what time you expect to be back. It can be tempting to change your plans and extend your evening if you find that you and your date are firing on all cylinders the first time you meet – but don’t. Last minute changes of venue, even if it seems like the reason is valid, can be a red flag. As mentioned in the first tip, make your plans and stick to them.
The realm of online dating can be fun and exciting, but the fact is, some people use online sites in negative ways. Don’t ever shy away from protecting yourself and your personal information first. Good people will understand if you ask a lot of questions to vet them out. And for those who don’t… Well, these sites have a blocking feature for good reason.