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What Are the Dangers of Online Dating?


Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, Grindr, and OKCupid, are common online dating apps these days. However, they can come at a cost.

According to Pew Research Center (PRC), 30% of U.S. adults say they have used a dating site or app. While most online daters report positive experience overall, many users – particularly younger women – report being harassed or sent explicit messages on these dating platforms, according to a PRC survey.

These are some of the various types of issues users experience through online dating apps, but before we dive deeper, take a look at the following PRC statistics to get a better idea of Americans’ experiences on these platforms:

  • 12% of Americans say they married or got into a committed relationship with someone they met on a dating app or website
  • About 23% of Americans say they went on a date with someone they met on a dating app or website
  • A survey reveals that about 50% or more of 18-to-29-year-olds (48%) and LGB adults (55%) report using a dating app or website
    • 20% in each group report getting married or into a serious relationship with some they met through these dating platforms
  • About 7-in-10 online daters believe it is common for users to lie in order to seem more desirable
  • 60% of female users ages 18 to 34 report that someone on a dating site or app contacted them even after they said they weren’t interested
  • 57% of female users report getting a sexually explicit message or image they didn’t ask for

As you can see, there are positive and negative sides to using online dating apps. However, our Bergen County criminal defense lawyers want to shift the focus to the dangers of online dating, particularly, the frequent crimes committed through these platforms.

With this in mind, we encourage you to keep the following information in mind, as it may help you avoid getting accused of a crime.

Sexual Assault

Law enforcement agencies are on the lookout for sexual predators who use online dating apps to lure in potential victims. One way predators accomplish this is by “catfishing” victims, meaning they use fake profile pictures, bios, or other details to portray themselves as someone they’re not. Predators may even use little white lies on their online dating profiles to come off as more attractive or interesting.

For example, a person may lie about where they work and invite the victim to meet up after their “shift” ends at 10 pm. The perpetrator then sends the victim an address to their place of “work.” Once the victim arrives, the perpetrator may lure them into their vehicle or an isolated place and sexually assault the victim. Sexual assault includes:

  • Rape
  • Attempted rape
  • Fondling or unwanted sexual touching
  • Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex

Promoting Obscene Material

Anyone, including minors, is capable of catfishing. By simply using a profile picture of an adult, falsifying an age, and communicating like an “adult” through online dating platforms, a minor can easily persuade an adult into thinking they’re forming a relationship with someone over 18. Thus, if the adult were four years older than the minor and sends them a nude photo, they could get criminal charges.

In New Jersey, a person who knowingly shows obscene material to a person under 18 years of age with the knowledge or purpose to arouse, gratify or stimulate themself or another is guilty of a crime if they are at least four years older than the person under 18 years old viewing the material. This is a third-degree crime punishable by 3 to 5 in prison. For context, “obscenity” refers to a category of pornography that violates contemporary community standards and has no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

However, it is an affirmative defense that:

  • the minor falsely represented that they were 18 or over
  • the minor’s appearance was such at an individual of ordinary prudence would believe them to be age 18 or over
  • The sale, distribution, rental, showing or exhibition of obscene material was made in good faith relying upon the minor’s written representation and appearance as well as the reasonable belief that they were actually age 18 or over


An unsuspecting online dating crime that the federal government is actively investigating is fraud.

The FBI issued a warning in 2019 telling Americans to be aware of “confidence/romance fraud,” which occurs when a person deceives a victim into thinking they have a trusting relationship and taking advantage of that trust to persuade victims to send money, provide personal and financial details, or purchase items for the perpetrator. The FBI reports some cases involved victims being persuaded to launder money on behalf of the perpetrator.

How common is fraud through online dating sites and apps? In 2018, the FBI reported $362 million in losses, a 70% increase over 2017. Confidence/romance fraud was the 7th most commonly reported crime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and the second-costliest scam for victim loss.

If you are facing criminal charges in Bergen County, our legal team can defend your case. To learn more, contact us at (201) 574-7919!

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