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Predators using online dating target Geelong women

Online predators are using dating websites to meet Geelong women and carry out rapes and sexual assaults.
Geelong police have revealed they have investigated "more than a dozen" reports of rape and indecent assault this year linked to match-making sites.
Detective Senior Sergeant Peter Miller, from the sex offences unit, said the number of cases was rising and he urged women to be vigilant and avoid meeting strangers in secluded locations.
"I've no doubt on some of these websites people have found their lost love and are happy, but unfortunately some people in this area have had really bad experiences and there's been some nasty sexual assaults reported," he said.
"There have been incidents where ladies have organised to meet a person but, just prior to that, the location changes and they're going to those new locations and incidents occur."
Incidents reported to police this year include:
A woman in her 40s who met a male in his mid-30s from Melbourne online. Their first meeting at a South Geelong cafe was cancelled. He instead picked her up, took her to a football oval and allegedly raped her. He's been charged with rape.
A Geelong man in his early-50s who met a local woman online and started taking photos of her face. Over time he took photos of other areas of her body and then allegedly grabbed and groped her against her will. He has been charged with indecent assault.
Sen-Sgt Miller said removing sexual predators from dating websites was proving impossible, with many websites based overseas.
Many alleged offenders could remain undetected online, despite past convictions or active investigations.
"A lot of them (websites) are affiliated with other countries and here in Australia we don't have any memorandum of understanding with them and therefore don't have the ability to say remove a certain name from the website because he's allegedly done A, B and C," he said.
"We can only say to these females you need to be very certain that if you contact a male you do as much research as you can and inform someone else that you are meeting them at a certain pub on a certain day at a certain time."
Some dating websites post warnings to their users in an effort to keep people safe.
Plenty of Fish advertises that it has more dates, relationships and visits than any other dating site, with 50,000 new singles each day.
It also provides a strong warning that it does not conduct criminal background checks on members and is not liable for any damages, including injury or emotional distress.
Another dating site offers a similar warning.
"We understand that no two people are the same, so we offer a range of services that help you date the way you want," the website states.
"You acknowledge that you use the ... site at your own risk."

www.geelongadvertiser.com.au (9-8-2013)
Erin Pearson

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