DATING APP NIGHTMARE: Rape & robbery disguised as romance leads some to look for love offline

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The case of a Memphis man sentenced to 30 years in prison without the possibility of parole after he raped two women has college students skeptical when it comes to dating using social media.

“I try to kind of make the girl feel more comfortable because, you know, it’s kind of dangerous more so for them than for me,” said Nathan Thomas, a University of Memphis student.

Terry Lee Coley, 28, was sentenced to 30 years in prison without the possibility for parole after pleading guilty to two counts of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated robbery, the DA said.

RELATED: Memphis man sentenced to 30 years in prison for raping women he met through social media, DA says

In two instances, Coley made contact with his victims on social media and told them his cousin would pick them up and drive them to a restaurant.

On Oct. 14, 2015, Coley picked up an 18-year-old woman, but took her to a spot along Raleigh LaGrange Road and raped her in the car at gunpoint, the Da said.

On Oct. 25, 2015, he told a 19-year-old woman he met on Instagram that his cousin ‘Carlos’ would pick her up and take her to meet him at a restaurant in the Cordova area. Instead, Coley himself picked her up, drove to an intersection in Frayser and robbed her at gunpoint.

In the third incident, on Oct. 28, 2015, Coley abducted a woman and her 2-year-old daughter at gunpoint while she was waiting for her cousin in front of her home in Orange Mound.

He drove them to an apartment complex on Summer Avenue where he raped the 18-year-old woman at gunpoint, as her baby lay next to her in the back seat of the car, the DA said.

Coley was identified and arrested in November of that year.

“I use it (social media) a little bit here in Memphis, but then I just completely deactivated the app that I was using. It just took one instance. I met up with someone and it wasn’t the person that I thought it was. So after that, I learned my lesson. I deleted it,” said Autry Harrison, a University of Memphis student.

In a statement to FOX13 News, eHarmony listed a few red flag behaviors people should look out for when communicating with someone on any dating app:

  • Immediately asks to move your conversation off the dating platform you’re using. Users who don’t have the best intentions tend to move communication off the original app or website as soon as possible, and often onto a less secure platform.
  • Asks you to share your credit card or bank account information, your Social Security number, or sensitive information like your address or mother’s maiden name which could be used to access your financial accounts. It’s important to report anyone pressuring you for this information to the dating platform you’re using immediately.
  • Claims to be experiencing an emergency and needs your help, either by sending money or goods (such as computers or gift cards, for example).
  • Pressures you to progress the relationship faster than you’re comfortable with, and/or compromise your principles.
  • Asks inappropriate questions, and/or insists on getting overly close very fast. Look out for messages that are poorly written and escalate quickly from an initial introduction to an attempt at a deeper connection.
  • Tells stories that are inconsistent or exaggerated, and/or offers vague answers to specific questions.
  • Disappears suddenly from the app and reappears under a different name.
  • Pressures you to meet at their home, your home or another isolated location. For the first few dates, it’s always best to meet in a public place.