Valentine’s Day can be pricey and there may be a lot of pressure to buy that perfect gift, take your special someone to their favourite expensive restaurant, or to splurge on an incredible night out.
Although, if you’re single on Valentine’s day, or anytime during the year, this can actually cost you a lot more if you’re not careful – a lot more.
If you’re actively looking for love online, this can sometimes have a serious impact on your bank account particularly if you fall victim to a scam.
“Scammers are capitalising on the vulnerability of those looking for love or companionship to extract significant amounts of money from their victims,” according to a press release from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). “The fraudsters typically create enticing profiles on well-known dating websites or social media platforms to lure victims into online relationships.”
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These scams are known as romance scams and according to the RCMP, these scams surpass all other types of fraud. In 2018 around 760 victims in Canada reported total losses of more than $22.5 million to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
So, how do these scams work?
These scams typically are successful due to scammers building trust with their victim, or victims. Scammers will build trust before asking for money.
Usually, the greater the trust gained by the fraudster, the greater the financial loss is for the victim(s).
In 2018 in Ontario a total of just under $12 million was lost as a result of romance scams, this is the largest amount in the country.
The RCMP recently outlined some tips in order to avoid becoming a victim of online romance scams.
These tips are as follows.
- Be skeptical when chatting with an individual who claims to live nearby but is currently overseas for work (this can be a set-up to ask for money later).
- Be suspicious if they refuse or continuously cancel video chats and in-person meetings.
- Be cautious when someone you’ve never met in person confesses their love.
- Protect yourself by never, under any circumstances, sending money for any reason.
Here are some tips if you believe you have been a victim of this scam:
- Contact your bank and place a stop payment on any cheque or money transfer.
- Report it to your local police.
- File a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC).
Graphic is courtesy of the RCMP.