We discussed the Salt Creek incident in our last blog post. However, there are other incredibly important lessons to be learned from this kidnapping. Our two intrepid backpackers, Beatriz and Lena, needed a ride from Adelaide, Australia to Melbourne and decided to seek a ride through an online venue called Gumtree. The ladies had decided on a different driver at first, but that driver had to cancel because of car troubles. They then decided to contact an alternate driver and go with him. That choice placed them in grave danger put them in a situation that forced them to fight for their lives. We at Captive Audience PTRT know that both ladies were incredibly fortunate and it was truly their quick thinking and unwillingness to surrender that saved their lives.
Every year, millions of people meet each other online. Sites like Craigslist, Tinder, Match.com, Elite, Zoosk, Our Time, and many others are used daily to connect people. For every bad story, there are hundreds of good or neutral stories, but the bad stories are generally horrific. We live in an age where we spend as much of our social lives in the virtual/digital space as we do in the physical space. We know this is a reality and one that has significant dangers. Sociopaths, narcissists, and other disturbed individuals love these sites because they can set the conditions to abuse or prey on the innocent. We have a few tips to keep you safe, whether your intent is to catch a ride to Melbourne, hook up with someone for a good time, or have a deep relationship. Our question to you is, how much is your safety worth?
- Never take text communications at face value. Get a name and use a background check program like Been Verified to find out about them. Ask the person about your findings. We would hope that they do the same thing about you on their end. Trust but verify.
- The Web Cam never lies. There are many times where people create false profiles about themselves to lure people into their web of lies. This verifies that the person in the profile is the person to whom you are talking, and not some 50-something living in his mom’s basement. We recommend that there be a two-way, face to face conversation online, on Skype, or Face Time. Remember that only 20% of a conversation is verbal and the rest is nonverbal. We talk about lie detection in our book, 365 Days of Survival.
- Make the first encounter with the person in a public venue surrounded by a lot of people. We recommend that you bring a friend to watch your back. This may seem overly paranoid but as we said, the bad stories are often horrific. In the Salt Creek case, it led to both girls fighting for their lives. A Special Forces planning procedure, known as backwards planning, dictates that you should always plan your exfiltration first. That simply means that you plan your exit before you plan your date. You should be able to back out of the date or event at point along the timeline.
- Trust your gut. One thing I have learned over the years is that when I am around crazy people, they always make me feel crazy. If something is not right you will feel it. Trust your instincts and do not be afraid to say “Nope! Not Today.”. Have an emergency exfiltration plan for every phase of your mission, so that when you say “Let me out right here”, you can still get home.
- One of my favorite General’s, General Mattis as a Marine Commander told his officers “Be polite, be professional, and have a plan to kill everyone in the room.” While this seems a bit rough, this advice stands when you decide to take a risk like meeting someone online. Let me start by saying that I am not advocating homicide. I am however advocating that if you are going to take a risk like meeting someone online, that you need to be prepared to fight your way out of a bad situation. The best way to avoid a bad situation is to be ready to bail when things are questionable. A relationship or encounter needs to be mutually beneficial and consensual. If at any point it is not, your evasion plan should go into effect.
We want everyone to be safe, and enjoy their lives. Our goal is to deny the bad guys a chance to target you. We live in 2019 and know that people meet online, and many happy relationship begin there. Please do it safely. Always plan your exfiltration first, trust but verify, and remember that the web cam never lies. We recommend you at least take a solid self-defense course, and read our book, 365 Days of Survival.