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I Was Robbed by a Date while Traveling — Don’t Let It Happen to You

Alana Mbanza

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I was robbed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

It wasn’t at gunpoint in a dark alley by a menacing figure in a mask. I was robbed by a guy I had spent three lovely hours on a date with; a guy I met Tinder.

As a seasoned online dater and someone who is extremely intuitive, I take pride in being discerning. Yet, there were several red flags I ignored, and many cautionary measures I failed to take, because of the deep connection I felt.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Against my better judgement, I allowed my date to pick me up from my hostel. It was dark, my hostel was situated in an isolated alley, and the thought of walking to a main road to figure out an alternative mode of transportation didn’t appeal to me.

[Tweet “”I was robbed by a guy I had spent three lovely hours on a date with.””] Throughout the night, my date seemed particularly concerned with the location of my hostel, echoing my feelings that the neighborhood wasn’t the safest for a woman traveling alone. He suggested I find somewhere else to stay and offered to pay for a room for me for the night.

I assumed he was just trying to have sex, so I firmly, but politely, declined. But as the night went on and we developed a deeper connection, his offer seemed more and more reasonable. He assured me that he would not stay with me at the hotel; his only concern was my safety. Eventually, I agreed.

Not wanting to end the night, we grabbed a bottle of wine and went to a hotel that was in a much better area (according to him). He never once pressured me for sex, which made me feel even safer with him.

Eventually he left, saying that he had to work in the morning. We decided he would come pick me up on his lunch break, get my things from my hostel, and then I could decide what I wanted to do next.

I went to sleep.

kuala lumpur wanderful

I woke up around 4 am, compulsively checked my phone, and discovered that he had unmatched me on Tinder. This meant that I could no longer see his messages or his profile. Our entire interaction had vanished. I unsuccessfully tried to reach him on WhatsApp.

I started to panic. I was in a hotel room in a foreign country, and the person who was supposed to pick me up had deleted himself from my life. An initial inventory of my belongings calmed me down a bit. My passport, my debit card, and the cash I had in my purse were all accounted for.

I sent a message to a friend of a friend who was in Kuala Lumpur, explaining my situation. Once I dropped him a pin of where I was, he let me know I was not in a safe location and suggested I leave immediately.

As I tried to make sense of what had happened and figure out my next move, I remembered the “hidden” money in my backpack. I had it with me because the lock I bought for the locker in my hostel was broken. I thought it was safer to bring it with me than to leave it in the room, unguarded. Because my debit cards weren’t working in Malaysia, I was relying on the cash I had on hand to get me through my next month of travel.

I wasn’t sure when this man had taken my things, but it didn’t matter. All of the money was gone.

I went to the front desk and learned the real name of my date, different than what he had used on Tinder. I also learned that the hotel operated on hourly rates. My date had only paid for two.

Staying through the night would cost me pretty much all I had left in my purse. My friend called a GrabTaxi (the Malaysian version of Uber) and I made it back to my original hostel, shaken, but unhurt.

Afterwards, I was so ashamed by what had happened. I told myself that I should have known better, I shouldn’t have put myself in such a dangerous situation. I was mostly embarrassed to admit that I had been robbed in a pay-by-the hour hotel by a stranger who, for the better part of the evening, made me remember what romance feels like.

But I was also lucky. I had incredible support from friends, my family, and members of my travel community who made sure I was safe as I left the country. They assured me that this wasn’t my fault. And it wasn’t.

I reported the man who had robbed me to Tinder, who agreed to investigate, but told me there wasn’t much they could do because he used a fake name and Facebook profile. I left the country before I could file an official report with the police.

wanderful travel purse

Don’t let this happen to you.

After this experience, I put multiple fallbacks in place to ensure nothing like this ever happens to me again. By talking about this, we can only make dating safer for other women travelers.


5 Precautionary Measures for Staying Safe While Dating Abroad:

1. Connect with at least one other person in the country you’re visiting.

Travel groups and communities are excellent for connecting with people all over the world. It’s always a good idea to reach out to others who are familiar with the country you’re visiting prior to your trip, and maintain contact throughout.

You never know when you might need directions, insider information, assistance, or emotional support.

2. Know who you’re dating.

The information required to set up online dating sites and apps can quickly and easily be fabricated. People can construct a new identity in a matter of minutes. Get as much demographic information as possible before the date. Google and Google Reverse Image Search are your friends.

Screenshot several pictures of your potential date and send them with their name, email, and/or phone number to a friend, or at the very least to yourself.

3. Let others know where you’re going.

This can be a bit of a pain, especially if the date goes well and you’re moving from location to location. However, it’s important to let others know where you are going. You can do this by dropping a pin on your phone or checking in on social media to leave bread crumbs should someone need to find you.

4. Meet your date there.

The anxiety I felt the next day was so high. I knew that my date knew where I was staying. I kept imagining situations in which he would find out that I had reported him and come to seek revenge.

It may be difficult to figure out how to get around safely at night in another country, but being able to get to and from the date independently gives you more control over the experience.

[Tweet “”I kept imagining … he would find out that I had reported him and come to seek revenge.””]

5. Have multiple ways to access funds.

Even though I had informed my bank of my travels and had been using my cards without problems in Thailand for eight months, I wasn’t able to access my funds in Malaysia. I had to be creative with how I accessed my money, handling way more than I was comfortable with, which left me financially vulnerable.

It’s always a good idea to spread your money out over various accounts, call your banks in advance, and hide your cash in several different places.

I will forever be an advocate for taking risks in the pursuit of love and adventure, but still encourage you all to be safe while dating at home and abroad.


What other suggestions would you make for staying safe on a date while traveling? Share in the comments.

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Alana Mbanza

Author Alana Mbanza

Alana Mbanza is a freelance writer who has dreamed of sharing the transformative power of words since childhood. Even more than a writer, Alana strives to be an active agent of creation, choosing to see and create life through the lens of love.

More posts by Alana Mbanza

Join the discussion 19 Comments

  • Lynn says:

    Great post, Alana! So sorry you had to go through this!!

  • APRIL says:

    I’m so sorry you had to go through this. But thanks for sharing this info. This is very helpful for other travelers like me. I was nervous even just by reading your post. I can’t imagine being in the same situation but I’m really glad you’re safe.

  • Kapria says:

    I’ve been robbed on a date before as well. Great story and I’m sure it will help the next person.

  • ~CDA says:

    So thankful you’re safe, and thank you for sharing about your unfortunate experience. It has provided insightful reminders for all of us to consider and practice to keep ourselves safe.

  • Keisha Lee says:

    Wow! I didn’t know the full story and I am so happy you are ok. I really appreciate you sharing this lesson learned, but wish it hadn’t been true.

  • Ima Oduok Ima Oduok says:

    Wow, that’s terrifying. Not just the robbery, but the fact that the guy spent an evening pretending to be someone he wasn’t. I’m glad you weren’t hurt, and that you made it out safely. These are great tips even for dating in the US.

    • Alana Mbanza Alana Mbanza says:

      That was one of the most hurtful parts; really feeling like I had met someone I could connect with and then being betrayed. Obviously, he didn’t owe me anything, especially after one date but it still hurt. Thanks for reading.

  • Lotoya says:

    Wow, so sorry this happened to you. Thanks for sharing such a personal story and giving us all a reminder.

  • Comilla Wimberly says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have shared with my travel followers. Be wishes to you!!

  • Alexis says:

    This sounds awful, but equally suspicious. So, did you go to hotel at 2am, fall in love, drink a bottle of wine, have your date leave, fall asleep and wake up all in two hours, by 4am? There seems to be a hole in the story there. And your date stole the ‘hidden money’ in your backpack but not the money in plain sight in your wallet? Something sounds fishy here.

    • Xenobia says:

      Alexis, I don’t know you, but get out of my head. I was thinking the same thing. Then I did a google search of the author and grew even more suspicious.

    • Alana Mbanza Alana Mbanza says:

      I can appreciate your opinion but honestly I decided to share this story, as embarrassing and unlikely as it may seem to you, precisely for this very reason. So many women don’t come forward with stories like these and worse, instances of rape, because of fear of not being believed. I wish I could say it wasn’t true. The money being taken was only one consequence of this incident. The emotional consequences, many of which I’m still dealing with, weren’t even addressed. Because of space limitations, every single detail wasn’t included. I hope that you can understand and respect how difficult it was to share this story.

    • Lori says:

      She is writing a short version of the story for purposes of this article. Obviously, she is not going to tell the readers every detail here. Please do not attack the victim, when she is trying to share her story in hopes that someone else might not fall for the same tactics. She admits to not seeing some red flags, and I commend her honesty. We’ve all made mistakes that, in hindsight, we can say, oh, in that moment, I might have acted differently.

  • H-A-B says:

    Hi Alana and thank you for sharing your story and your five tips.

    As a female solo traveler and a womens self defense instructor I’d like to share a safety tip of my own which I hope your female readers will read, remember, and share with many other women and girls far and wide.

    I have been teaching Krav Maga to women and girls for over five years and we teach a very effective technique which I feel should should be in every woman and girls arsenal. We are a women only event, run by women, for women, and there is an extremely effective technique what we teach to women of all ages, which I feel we should all share as far and wide as possible.

    The technique is the “groin grab” self defense technique which is to be used against a male attacker, which is now taught in many womens self defense classes, and there is actually a little trick to it…

    To execute this technique, you’re going to take your hand and quickly grasp between the attackers thighs underhand. Its going to feel like you’re “cradling” the testicles. Quickly grab hold of, or snatch the testicles and dig your fingertips into the fragile skin BEHIND the scrotum. Then, once you have a good grip, you turn your hand into a vice, with your fingers digging inwards, around the back and over the top of the testicles. If you do it right, you should feel the testes INSIDE your hand which is holding the scrotum. You want, whenever possible, to hook your fingers over and around at least one testicle. One of them is enough.

    Then, with your hands in a claw and your fingertips latched around the testes, you turn your hand sharply, as though you were turning a doorknob. Simultaneously, squeeze hard and pull the testicles away from his body as fast and as hard as you can. DO NOT LET GO OF THEM. This is very important. What happens then, is that your assailant usually screams out in pain and then tries to grab the wrist of your hand holding him in a futile attempt to try to get you to release him. DON’T. He then quickly loses one of the natural advantages he usually has over us (his strength) within a matter of seconds. Vomiting, curling over, collapsing and convulsing is common. Shock and unconsciousness can set in within 8 seconds. If he initially starts to fight back then you tuck your head in and keep squeezing his testicles until he faints. This only takes a matter of seconds. When he collapses, which he will, you get away to safety as quickly as possible and call for help. I’ve heard of two older women who dragged their attackers to a place of safety while holding them by the testicles. It may sound odd but testicles are so vulnerable and sensitive that this technique also works very well for women. I also like to share the story of the woman who was threatened with the words “do as I say or else…” by the younger man who attacked her, but she turned the situation around and he eventually ended up collapsing and begging her to phone the police while she maintained a tight grip on his testicles.

    It’s never too late to perform this technique at any stage of an attack, and that even includes the option of reaching down if he’s on top of you, but it is easiest to do when the testicles are exposed and closest to you where you can grab hold of them. I’ve actually met several women in my life who have fought off their attackers in this way and one did it when her attacker was on top of her and raping her at the point he lost control. Don’t ever hold back. Some women scream while they are doing this, and some women think of a loved one being harmed to help overcome any bad feelings of hurting someone else even if they are being hurt themselves. Do whatever you have to do if you feel it helps.

    If done properly, and done with enough force, this technique can even lead to the testicles rupturing. It’s actually easier to do than most women believe, and just about all of us have the capability to injure an attackers testicles in this way – whether we are young girls still of school age, or whether we are great grandmothers. We, as women have no part of our bodies as vulnerable as a mans testicles. After all, if you think about it testicles are just small objects of extreme vulnerability to pain squishiness wrapped in a delicate layer of skin which offers them no protection at all from this kind of counterattack by a woman. Most importantly, this fact holds true no matter what size your attacker is, nor how strong he is. And no matter how angry he is, and how much he’s threatened what he’s going to do to you, he’s going to drop. Don’t let anyone (usually men who are very uncomfortable with thoughts of women beating them in combat) try to convince you otherwise.

    I once worked with a group of Somali women who informed me that grandmothers, mothers, and daughters between generations shared this powerful method of fighting off men. They even have a name for it in Somalia and they call the move “Qworegoys”. They were surprised that women in the West didn’t seem to share this information as much as they expected them to, and even more surprised that most women didn’t even seem aware of this technique.

    I know that this advice would have been a difficult read for many women, but our lives are worth far more than a rapists testicles and we should be prepared to do whatever it takes to get away to safety. Please help to share this advice with as many other women and girls as far and wide as possible in any way you can help. It could one day be a life saver.

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