A weeklong search in Oregon for a suspect who kidnapped and beat a woman unconscious, and used dating apps while on the run to potentially target more victims, has raised questions about online platforms and how they leak, if at all. they do, to domestic abusers and criminals. .

The manhunt for Benjamin Obadiah Foster, wanted in connection with a January 24 kidnapping, culminated Tuesday with the suspect in custody after an hour-long standoff. He later died at a hospital from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Grants Pass police spokesman Jeff Hattersley told the CBS affiliate. KTVL from Medford. NBC News could not immediately confirm that development.

Benjamin Obadiah Foster.
Benjamin Obadiah Foster.KOBI

Police He said that in the days he was on the run, he was actively using online dating apps to «contact unsuspecting people» whom he may have lured into helping him escape or «potentially as additional victims.»

Foster was able to make a dating profile despite having a domestic violence case in 2017 and another in 2019 in which he held his then-girlfriend captive for two weeks in his Las Vegas apartment, tied her up and forced her to eat bleach.

Can criminals use dating apps?

Police have not said what apps Foster was using, but popular platforms had been trying to find his profile.

Hattersley said it’s likely Foster was on the apps looking for help eluding police.

«His past crimes lead us to believe that he initiates a dating relationship based on charisma and looks and then becomes controlling and violent,» he said.

Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel and Match Group, the parent company of Match, Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid and Plenty of Fish, said that from what they could see using public information, Foster was not on their platforms.

Bumble officials said that when they learn of a media report about a person of interest, «we work proactively to identify if the member is within our community and take prompt action against their account.»

While Foster may have used a fake name and photos that don’t belong to him, dating apps generally don’t have a standard form of screening for domestic violence or criminal records.

Most apps do not run criminal background checks on those who sign up. However, companies reserve the right to conduct assessments to ensure that a profile follows the guidelines.

Coffee meets bagel, eHarmonyY zoosk it actually states in their terms of service that those who have felony convictions or are registered sex offenders are not allowed to sign up on their platforms. party group says it bans anyone convicted of or who has not contested a felony, violent or sexual offense on its platforms.

Still, they don’t test users directly, which means people who sign up can technically be lying.

‘Information is power’

Last year, Match Group introduced a way for users to run background checks using the platform. Gracewhich is now offered on Tinder, Match, Plenty of Fish, and Stir, a dating service for single parents.

Garbo promotes ethical background searches and extracts records of arrests, convictions, and sex offender records focusing on crimes that «could have a potential impact on someone’s safety,» such as rape, assault, robbery, and financial fraud. The company says it excludes nonviolent arrests and convictions that disproportionately affect marginalized groups, including drug possession and traffic violations.

“Information is power when it comes to gender-based violence,” said Adam Dodge, special counsel to Garbo and founder of Ending Tech-Enabled Abuse, a group that raises awareness about online safety.

“The most common refrain you’ll hear from survivors is, ‘If I knew this person had a history of this, I wouldn’t have dated them,’” she said.

Dodge said dating app users should be given the option to run background checks because it may not work as a general policy.

“Privacy is a big problem. Domestic violence is a really complicated thing, very nuanced. Too often, victims are improperly blamed, accused, convicted and issued restraining orders,” he said. «It’s really critical that we be victim-centric in this work and give users choice, and they can make an informed decision about whether or not that’s something they want to do.»

Dodge said dating apps should be doing «everything possible» to ensure users don’t «unknowingly associate with people who have histories of gender-based violence, sexual violence and other types of violence.»

There are ways that dating apps go out of their way to make their platforms a safe space.

Tinder also offers identity verification; Match Group and Bumble offer photo verification to prevent catfishing; Match Group has anti-harassment prompts that use artificial intelligence to detect harmful language; Bumble has a private detector AI feature to automatically blur potential unsolicited nude images; and most apps have features to block and report matches.

“I would like to see all of these things done broadly across all dating platforms and all dating sites, so that we can better mitigate image-based sexual abuse, people with violent histories or a history of domestic violence being connect with users in the app and reduce catfishing. Dodge said.

Erinn Robinson, director of media relations for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, an anti-sexual assault nonprofit group, said it’s also key that when a dating app user reports a match, those reports are followed up with meticulously established standards. to investigate them.

That will “empower users on the platform to block and cut off contact and harass users; that goes a long way in giving users a greater sense of security and online dating.”

“Unfortunately, online dating is a place where sexual violence exists. And these platforms are sometimes being used by predators and by people who don’t have the best intentions,» Robinson said, noting that Foster’s case is an example of «how these platforms can be used on the bad side.»

Both she and Dodge said the best way to ensure a safe experience is for users to be vigilant. They need to be mindful of the personal information they are sharing, watch out for catfishing, verify that a match is who the person says they are, and watch out for requests for money or pressure to meet in person too quickly.

History of domestic violence and abuse

Before he was wanted on charges of kidnapping, attempted murder and assault in the Oregon case, Foster had two separate cases in Las Vegas.

In December 2017, he was charged with felony battery constituting domestic violence, according to online court records.

Then, in 2019, he allegedly held his then-girlfriend captive inside his Las Vegas apartment for two weeks.

The woman suffered seven broken ribs, two black eyes, injuries from being bound with zip ties and duct tape, according to the Las Vegas police report. She told officers that they forced her to eat bleach and choked her to the point of blacking out. She was finally able to escape during a trip to a store.

Although he was initially charged with five felony counts in the kidnapping, he reached a plea agreement in August 2021 that allowed him to plead guilty to one felony assault and one misdemeanor assault constituting domestic violence.

A judge in Clark County sentenced him up to 2 and a half years in prison. The days he spent in jail awaiting trial were included in his sentence, leaving him with fewer than 200 days to serve in state custody.

He also accepted a plea deal in the 2017 case and was sentenced to time served, court records show.

On January 24, less than two years after Foster’s conviction, Grants Pass police went to a home in the 2100 block of Shane Way for an assault report and found a woman «who had been tied up and severely beaten.» until she was knocked unconscious.»

Foster fled the scene before officers arrived, police said.

The charging documents state that he «secretly confined(d)» the victim in a location «where she was unlikely to be found» and «intentionally tortured» her.

The victim remains in critical condition, police said Tuesday. Authorities said Foster is not believed to have used a dating app to attack her.

If you or someone you know is facing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help at (800) 799-SAFE (7233), or go to www.thehotline.org for more. States often have domestic violence hotlines as well.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255text HOME to 741741 or visit TalkingSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.