Minnesota Artist Tou Ger Xiong Tragically Killed in Colombia After Meeting Online Contact

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – The State Department has issued a warning to American travelers, advising them not to use dating apps while traveling to Colombia after multiple “suspicious deaths” of U.S. citizens in the South American country.

Since January, Colombia has been designated as a country that Americans should “reconsider travel” to due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping risks. Some areas of the country, including its border regions, are labeled “Do not travel.”

According to the advisory, there were “eight suspicious deaths of private U.S. citizens” in Medellin, Colombia’s second-largest city, between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2023. The deaths are believed to either be forced overdose or suspected homicides, and though they are not believed to be linked according to the State Department, several “involve the use of online dating applications.”

The U.S. embassy in Colombia reported an increase in incidents involving dating apps as a lure this year. Minnesota comedian Tou Ger Xiong was kidnapped and held for ransom after telling family he would be meeting with a woman he met online, ultimately resulting in his death.

The advisory also cautioned that incidents involving dating apps routinely go underreported in major cities such as Medellin, Cartagena, and Bogota. It recommended that people using dating apps only meet in public places, avoid isolated locations, and share details of their plans with a friend or family member. The advisory also emphasized the increased reports of people being lured by dating apps amid a rise in crimes committed against foreign visitors. In the last trimester of 2023, there was a 200% increase in thefts against foreign visitors, and a 29% increase in violent deaths, with most of the victims being U.S. citizens.

In conclusion, the State Department’s advisory serves as a cautionary reminder for American travelers to exercise vigilance and caution when using dating apps in Colombia due to the risks associated with such activities.