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U.S. Issues New Travel Security Alert For Colombia

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Colombia has long held an iffy reputation for travelers. On one hand, it's an amazing destination to visit.

On the other hand, many travelers have claimed they feel the need to keep their head on a swivel in certain areas.

Some of the more popular cities to visit are Medellin, Bogota and Cartagena to name a select few. The U.S. Embassy just issued a nationwide security alert this morning for all travelers in Colombia.

festive street in bogota

While the U.S. Embassy surely has intel we don't possess, travelers can dive into our in-depth report regarding the safety aspect of Medellin here.

New Security Alert

Tragically, it has been reported from November 1 – December 31, 2023 8 U.S. tourists lost their lives by being duped by criminals.

There are a variety of ways tourists are targeted in Colombia. So much so, there is a common saying in Colombia that tourists should know.

medellin on nice day

‘No Dar Papaya’ translates to ‘don’t give papaya’. Essentially, do your best to not stand out and make yourself a target.

Keep valuables out of plain sight while going about your day, and stick to tourist-friendly neighborhoods.

Advice from the U.S. Embassy:

  • Never physically resist a robbery attempt – your life is always more valuable than possessions
  • Trust your intuition – if something feels off, stick to your gut
  • Tell someone you trust of your plans when going out
vibrant street in small town Colombia

A Fatal Scam

Colombia is no stranger to crime and the U.S. Embassy is most certainly aware. So why the sudden change in tone?

It's quite alarming to lose 8 lives in such a short span. Medellin, in particular, has become a hotspot for U.S. tourists for its affordable costs and year-round splendid weather, among other digital nomad perks.

The world is a beautiful place, but there are bad apples everywhere. The same goes for Medellin as well as the rest of the country.

happy digital nomad with laptop

With digital nomadism and solo travel being so popular, the road can get lonely at times. With our phones glued to our hips, the easy thing to do is get on dating apps, as they are now universal.

It's no longer a societal taboo to meet up with strangers, or even ride with them, but perhaps the latest scam will raise red flags again.

The U.S. Embassy in Bogota is sounding the alarm on dating apps in Colombia as U.S. travelers are being duped far worse than your typical ‘catfish'.

Lured in to meeting in a public place as most dates go, as the night goes on, victims were lead away from public view and assaulted, drugged, robbed and even killed in some instances.

couples on dates at nice bar

Not all 8 reported deaths have been attributed to dating apps, but “several” have been linked.

How To Remain Vigilant Dating In Colombia

Other than keeping a heightened sense of awareness, the Embassy notes you should be one step ahead if you sense you're on a date from hell.

Staying in public view is key as violent crimes typically take place in isolation, such as residences and hotel rooms.

When possible, inform the concierge of your hotel or residence of a visitor and ask them to obtain valid identification beforehand if you have a new visitor.

dating app on smartphone

Sedatives have been used, so it's important to keep an eye on what you're drinking and keep your phone within reach, as electronics are a commonly stolen item.

Uptick In Crime

According to the Tourism Observatory of the District Personnel of Medellin, crime against foreigners increased 200 percent toward the end of 2023 when compared to 2022 data.

That's a big jump that raises eyebrows. What's even more concerning is many deaths deemed ‘violent' were U.S. citizens in 2023.

colombia police

With the latest alert, it appears these unfortunate trends are carrying over into 2024, with the dating app scam becoming the most prevalent tactic.

Here is the kicker – the U.S. Embassy admits crime often goes unreported due to victim embarrassment. While Medellin is the hotspot for crimes against tourists, with the Embassy's knowledge of unreported crimes, they felt it was necessary to issue an alert for the whole country with Medellin, Bogota, and Cartagena being highlighted.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

Education Plz

Saturday 13th of January 2024

The key is to up the education in Colombia as a whole. Give everyone there a leg up for a better life. I lived here 14 years and I’m so let down with education system. A country where most middle class don’t even sign there name they just print when asked to sign. Give people hope on better jobs and a better life. Crime slows down. But my feelings are the rich don’t want to educate the poor here. Educate everyone here. Better paying jobs.


Wednesday 17th of January 2024

@Education Plz, look what you are saying is half true. I am an American citizen but I also, have the Colombian citizenship, living in both countries and going to school in both countries I would tell you that Colombians as far as quality of Education is more advanced and qualified than American education. Middle class unable to sign??? Maybe your Spanish is not good enough to make others understand you, when you are asking them to sign and they spell their names!!! ;) You should probably try to take some classes improve your Spanish. You would find Colombian doctors , driving a taxi cab. Because in Colombia, every thing is based on who you know and normal people that have no contacts, end whit a huge school debt, working in anything that is available. So please, get educated about the level of education of a country that is much more advanced than many other countries!!! :(


Saturday 13th of January 2024

My family just returned from Christmas in Medellin and Cartagena. We stayed 7 nights in both. We are Americans living in the Dominican republic for 20 years. This was my wife and I first trip to Colombia. Our kids and grandkids who live in Austin had been before to Bogota. We felt extremely safe the whole time and as a family we are considering an investment there. In Medellín we felt very safe the whole time. In Cartagena you just need to negotiate things always which was the advice from everyone we met in Medellin gave us. We have a vacation rentals business in the Dominican which is amazing to live and visit. We have traveled to every point of country and have always felt safe.. once and a while a client says that the embassy in the Dominican republic just issued a warning to Americans traveling to the DR which my wife spends and hour calming them down. We believe the American government doesn't want you to travel so you spend those Dollars in the USA


Wednesday 15th of May 2024

@James, Maybe you can learn to spell Colombia instead of Columbia.

I've been to Colombia about 40 times and travelled all across from Bogota to Medellin. No bad experience. Maybe, I am lucky.


Saturday 13th of January 2024

@David, Ive traveled to 57 different countries. There is a lot of crime in Columbia. I have friends that have been robbed at gunpoint. One friend was robbed at gunpoint in Cali, while a cop watched from across the street. I have never been anywhere in all my travels, where i heard so many stories of people being robbed. I'm not against Columbia, it's a beautiful country and the everyday people there are sweet; they don't like the crime either. But the reality is that there's crime, and it's pretty bad. And any locak would tell you the same thing... Even the locals don't walk around at night. Take care, good luck.


Friday 12th of January 2024

Or take your vacation in america - where you will more likely get done-over in every worse way - by anyone - including the criminals in police uniforms.


Friday 12th of January 2024

Agreed with Sandra's comments, easy to set the blame on the country, but never on the behaviour of the tourists that the only reason they visit Colombia is for the whole purpose of getting high up on drug's, perhaps the US could do a thorough check to their tourists before departure and check as to why they are really interested in travelling to Colombia. Or maybe Colombian Boarder Security should refuse entry if not satisfied with the tourists reason to visit the country


Friday 12th of January 2024

That’s just common sense anywhere. I love Colombia and people are very kind and helpful every where, but if you come to disrespect people and look to just use women for sex or guys to get you drugs, then, don’t expect any good.


Sunday 14th of January 2024

@Yoyo, you got that right, in the U.S you not safe anywhere, they are killing children in schools not even safe in church so U.S check yourself before you warn others