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20-Jan-2016 03:16

Figures from the National Crime Agency (NCA) show that 184 people reported being raped by someone they met via a dating website or mobile phone app in 2014, compared with 33 in 2009.

More than nine million Britons have signed up to dating websites and the NCA is launching a campaign to alert them to the dangers and to take precautions.

In 2014, 184 people reported being raped by someone they met on a dating website or app. Crime analyst Sean Sutton from the NCA said a ‘new breed’ of rapist could be emerging, as these alleged sex offenders are less likely to have a criminal record.

He said people can create a ‘pseudo-closeness’ chatting online which can skew expectations when people finally meet in person.

Worryingly, rape and sexual assaults are still under-reported, the agency warns, so the true number may be up to 10 times higher.

More than 9 million British people have signed up to dating websites such as Tinder, Plenty of Fish and Match.com, and the NCA says it isn’t claiming they are inherently dangerous.

But they are warning users to take better safety precautions, while stressing victims are never at fault.

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Rape generally is significantly under-reported, and those attacked by people they meet on dating websites may be less likely to come forward than if it was a stereotypical ‘stranger rape’, Mr Sutton warned.

He said the actual number could be 10 times higher than the 184 figure.

According to the figures, 85 per cent of the stranger rape victims coming forward relating to online dating were women.

Of these, 42 per cent were in their twenties and 24 per cent were in their forties.

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There has been a rise in reported rapes by strangers who met their victims on online dating websites.In the space of five years, allegations went up sixfold, National Crime Agency (NCA) figures show.