It’s another looking for love “meet up” gone horror story. As the weekend Salt Lake news announced a woman, 25-year-old Ashlyn Black of Layton, was brutally murdered by her online Tinder date. But wait, this isn’t the first time a local woman has been killed by an online encounter.
It was only last year when Mackenzie Lueck, a 23-year-old senior at the University of Utah went missing and was found dead by a blunt instrument trauma to the head, her dismembered remains burnt with gasoline and hidden in the deep woods.
Let’s circle back to our last issue, as we took a closer look at the risky behaviors associated with sugar babies or those who agree to meet up in exchange for money. We interviewed Mackenzie Lueck’s close friend, and discussed the red flags involved in meeting up through dating/arrangement sites in our feature, “Lover for Sale.”
Writing about Mackenzie was one of the most difficult and emotional features I’ve ever experienced—often stopping to cry, rage, or talk to someone to let off steam (ask my co-workers). And as a mother of five daughters, writing it meant something more to me than just sharing a mysterious murder story—it felt personal. My hope is that its message will inform, protect and ensure those who read it will be the wiser.
Dating apps don’t screen out creeps, criminals and lowlifes—they exist to make money, and no one is behind the scenes at Tinder challenging responses or running criminal background checks (unless you pay for it). And no one with a criminal record is going to volunteer that information either.
Lover For Sale: Why are smart women and men risking their lives for cash?
A quick google search turns up lots of sugar daddy/baby sites; the premier one seems to be SeekingArrangements.com (SA.com). Sugar baby sites like SA.com market to students, because they are the ideal candidate and in-demand—young, attractive and always in need of more money.
On the homepage of SA.com it announces a student incentive, “Using an .edu email address earns you a free upgrade!” It’s fair to say that college is expensive and many students are seeking a quick way to earn extra cash. Obtaining a background check on a prospective sugar daddy/momma is an option, but it costs extra. Who pays for these criminal background checks? Sadly, the “baby” does. And many babies take their chances, like Mackenzie, and opt-out because of the added cost ($30) associated with it.
A background check on Ajali supplied evidence that could and should have persuaded Mackenzie to decline his invitation. His record showed two previous criminal charges.
Several of the top free dating app platforms don’t screen for convicted sex offenders, either. The Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) ran an analysis tracking 150 incidents that involved sexual assault associated with dating apps. According to this study, “Most incidents occurred during the app users’ first in-person meeting, in parking lots, apartments and dorm rooms.” And, “Most victims, almost all women, met their male attackers through Tinder, OkCupid, Plenty of Fish or Match.” The Match Group owns them all.
In response to Mackenzie’s murder, SLC District Attorney Sim Gill stated, “We are facing huge systematic and cultural barriers when it comes to sexual assault victims. Blame is often attached to the sugar baby, not to the offender. There is stigma and shame that we need to confront head-on. In Utah, on average, only twelve percent of those who are victims of sexual assault will report that crime to law enforcement. My message for victims is that we believe you, we see you, and it is not your fault.”
To read the entire article, go here: https://www.saltlakemagazine.com/lover-for-sale/