45ºF

‘Tracking you at all times’: Michigan State Police warn of risks when using dating apps

DETROIT – A popular hairstylist from Bloomfield Township was killed Tuesday night inside a motel in Detroit, according to authorities.

Detroit police Chief James Craig said Bashar Kallabat, 56, may have met the man accused of killing him on a dating app. That hasn’t been confirmed.

Kallabat was killed just a few months after the murder of 25-year-old Kevin Bacon. He met the man accused of killing him, Mark Latunski, on the dating app Grindr.

Police said Grindr isn’t the only dating site Latunski was using. Latunski lived in Shiawassee County, about 24 miles east of Bacon’s home town of Swartz Creek.

Three days after Christmas state police went to Latunski’s house and found a secret room in his basement. That’s when they discovered Bacon’s naked body hanging from the ceiling by his ankles. He had been mutilated. Police said Latunski confessed he had stabbed Bacon in the back and slit his throat.

In the days and weeks after Bacon’s murder there were renewed safety concerns about dating apps. Sources close to the investigation confirm that Mark Latunski had also posted a profile with his pictures on a website called Rent Men, it advertises gay escorts and massages.

The first thing people see on that website is the site’s disclaimer. Police said if you use that site you’re signing away a lot of your privacy. Police said the app or website can access anything you have on your phone or home computer.

Michigan State Police Sergeant Steven Borello is in charge of computer crimes for Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.

“Allowing access to your GPS on your phone, it’s allowing your IP address, which is a track to your actual house when you have any internet service provider,” Borello said.

State police said if the private dating website you’re using is based overseas, as many of them are, their rules are different.

“Not only can they see your location like I said, they can access your camera, they can access your photos on your camera,” Borello said. “It’s extremely dangerous because, again, when you’re on a website or when you’re on an app you have no idea who you’re talking to on the other side. You can upload any picture you want or any profile that you want ... Any age, anything that you want to enter you can. How do you really know who you’re talking to?”

Police said whoever is on the other end can easily find out where you are at any time.

“Depending on what you allow when you first signed into the app and created a username and a password it can be tracking you at all times. Depending on how you set up your GPS locations,” Borello said.

They might also be able to hear your private conversations and see pictures you may have saved. Police also warn that you won’t always know who you’re really talking to.

“You never know. You can think the person’s a really nice person, could be their picture, but you don’t know what they end up doing once you meet them in person,” Borello said.

If you are using dating apps or websites their No. 1 safety rule is to always meet in a public place and tell your friends and family where you are going.


About the Authors: