Romance scams continue to have a profound impact on consumers and cause severe financial harm. In 2015 alone, Canadians lost $16,322,903.00 to this scam and $7,946,811.82 of that total was lost by victims in Ontario.
Fraudsters steal photos and use dating sites and social media to lure potential victims into sending money for various reasons. The fraudsters have shown that they are willing to develop the relationship over an extended period of time; this increases the trust level between the victim and the fraudster which results in the potential victim usually losing more money.
The fraudster will gain the trust of the victim through displays of affection and in some cases will send gifts, flowers and tokens to prove that their feelings are genuine. While the fraudster is usually located in a faraway country, eventually they will state that they want to meet the potential victim in person. It is at this time the fraudster will advise they can’t afford to travel and will seek assistance from the victim in covering travel costs. Other variations include the fraudster presenting situations of emergency or urgency, such as a sick family member and seeking financial assistance from the victim for various costs.
Warning Signs – How to Protect Yourself
Fraudsters want to develop a quick relationship with you, be suspicious when someone you haven’t met professes their love to you.
Never under any circumstances send money for any reason.
Be cautious when conversing with an individual that claims to live close to you but is working overseas, this is a set up for the fraudster to provide numerous reasons to ask for money.
If you receive a “pay cheque” or another form of payment from someone you’ve met online and they ask you to cash it and send a portion of the funds back to them – don’t do it! It’s a counterfeit cheque and you’ll be responsible to cover any fees from the bank.
If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at
1-888-495-8501 or report online through our website at http://www.antifraudcentre.ca.