Are you falling in love, or falling victim? Canadians engaging in online relationships need to be wary of potential romance scams. In 2019, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received 972 complaints related to romance scams, which included 682 victims who lost over $19 million to scammers pretending to be in love. Using fake profiles on social media, and through popular dating apps, scammers would gain the trust of their victims over a period of time before stealing an average of $28,000 per victim.
The RCMP recommends all those looking for relationships online to be vigilant. Always be suspicious of requests for money, even if someone insists it is for an emergency situation. Never trust anyone you have not met in person, who is quick to profess their love, or who claims to live nearby but is working overseas. These are all telltale signs the person on the other end may not be who they claim.
It is also important to be wary of requests for personal or financial information, intimate photos or video that can later be used for blackmail, or for help transferring or holding funds, which may lead to the victim being unknowingly involved in a much larger fraud scheme.
Reporting scammers is critical. If you believe you have been a victim of a romance scam:
- Stop all contact with the potential scammer
- Contact your financial institution to halt any outstanding payments
- Report it to your local police and include as much information as possible
- File a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) through their confidential online reporting system or by calling 1-888-495-8501