Instruction leaflet "How not to fall victim of a "fake date" extortion"
This concerns every user of the Internet.
The number of assaults in the gay community has increased. Among the reasons, there is everyday homophobia, desire of easy gain (criminals are sure that their victims will not seek help from law enforcement, afraid of revealing their sexual orientation), easy access to the victim.
At the same time, when meeting these criminals online, assault victims often provide them (the people they don’t know and have never seen) with personal information, which is later used against them.
This instruction provides information on how to avoid becoming a victim on the first date. Be careful! And if you became a victim of an assault, seek help from the law enforcement or LGBT organizations (contact information below).
Part 1. How to avoid becoming a victim
The level of homophobia in the Russian society is high, and is often fueled by politicians and certain mass media. Such political “games” create an environment where criminal gangs choose LGBT people as easy targets.
Under the cover of allegedly “hunting pedophiles” and standing up for “moral values”, criminals conduct blackmail, battery, and violate bodily integrity of their victims.
They understand that such actions constitute a criminal offense. However, they assume that their victims will not seek help in fear of being “outed”.
Here you may read about how these assaults happen in Saint Petersburg:
Under such circumstances, cautiousness is vital. But if despite all the precautions you have become a victim, you should immediately seek help from lawyers and psychologists (we provide help free of charge).
Part 2. How do the criminals choose their victims in dating apps and dating websites?
They pay attention to:
Your level of income.
You provide them with this information if you:
- discuss things like: giving them a ride in your car, providing them financial support, buying them something, inviting them to your a country house, renting an apartment, etc.
- post your photos from foreign countries, in an expensive car, in expensive and stylish clothes.
The young age of preferred partner.
Phrases like “preferred age of the partner: 18-19”, “I am searching for a young, slim guy”, etc., might make you a target.
Instagram, Facebook, Vkontakte and other networks where one can easily find information about you and your levels of income.
The criminals act according to the following pattern:
The ‘bait’ initiates communication, sends you photos (these may be photos of face, body of a different person). The ‘bait’ will refuse to come to your home or meet you on neutral territory, but will insist on meeting you at their apartment or hotel room.
Understanding the logic of the criminals, you can take measures to ensure your safety.
We advise you to meet on neutral territory, preferably in some public place, and not to share excessive information about yourself on dating websites and in dating apps.
Part 3. You have read everything described above but decided to meet the person
These 14 safety rules will help you to avoid criminals on your first date. Read and apply them.
- arrange your meeting in crowded places with surveillance and/or security present;
- do not bring with you large amounts of money or credit cards;
- review his social networks: does he share his contact information willingly; are his profiles new; do they have any information?
- if the person you see is not the person you messaged with, leave immediately and refuse to go anywhere with him. Most likely he is ‘bait’, and the criminals are waiting nearby;
- if you are met by the person you messaged with, you recognized his face from his photos, and you decided to go with him, TAKE NOTE OF HIS ADDRESS (street, house, apartment).
- lock the door with an internal lock, so that the door cannot be opened from the outside.
- inspect the apartment (pay attention to the balcony, wardrobes and other places where a person can easily hide). If you suspect that someone else is inside, leave the apartment immediately*
- generally, criminals use daily rent apartments. Your behavior might seem odd, but remember: your health, reputation and life are at stake. Check the space for extra personal belongings: food, shoes, coats; check the bathroom for extra hygiene products (toothpaste, toothbrushes, perfumes, creams, etc.). Presence of these may indicate that someone else is in the apartment;
- if you were invited home, but you learn that this is a daily rent apartment, your ‘acquaintance’ might have lied to you;
- in this case, do not open the internal lock and do not allow your ‘acquaintance’ to do it: it is likely that on the staircase you will find tough looking guys who are not interested to know that nothing happened between you and the ‘bait’. Their psychology is criminal psychology, moved by desire of financial gain or “pedophile hunting”;
- ñall your friends or the police immediately. People on the other side of the door will hear your calls, and might abandon their plans;
- the police know of the mobs specializing in fake dates. Call the police: it is better that the police learns about your orientation, than the criminals humiliating, beating you or extorting money;
- if the ‘bait’ is trying to settle you on the sofa, check if there is a laptop with a web camera standing opposite of you. If you notice it, close it. Criminals might have bugged the place with surveillance tools and blackmail you with the recordings later.
How to act around the criminal.
- if the criminals have managed to enter the apartment and are trying to extort money, do not panic. Ask the ‘bait’ for his passport;
- most likely, he will refuse or will show you a copy. If the bait is older than 16, he has reached the age of consent and is legally permitted to engage in sexual activity. In such case, you are not a criminal, but they are;
- in all known cases, the ‘bait’ was older than 18;
- do not provoke the criminals; talk to them calmly. Try to remember their appearance in details: later you will be able to describe and identify them;
- do not disclose any personal information; give them false information;
- the criminals often present themselves as the police; they threaten their victims with media and with ‘occupy pedophilia’-type exposure. They also use good cop/bad cop tactics;
- remember that they are fraudsters without any connections to law enforcement (the latter act differently);
- if you were forced to disclose information about your finances and were forced to use cash dispenser, enter incorrect pin code three times to block your card;
- try to convince them to give the money later. Criminals are afraid to be seen on CCTV near cash dispensers. You can use this fact to call the police.
What to do after assault.
Once you are safe, inform the police and/or LGBT rights organizations of the situation. You will get legal and psychological support.
- St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast: “Coming Out” LGBT Initiative Group, +7 (812) 242 54 69, firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Moscow: LGBT initiative group “Stimul”, +7 (495) 968 35 63, email@example.com;
- Other regions: Russian LGBT Network, +7 (812) 454-64-52, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call us immediately after the incident! Do not hesitate. We will do our best to help.