Canadian Victims Have Lost Millions
ORILLIA, ON, March 13, 2013 /CNW/ - One of the fastest growing and most
devastating fraud schemes in Canada is perpetrated through romance
scams, according to members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP)
The romance scam has been around for decades. However, with the
prominence of the internet and online dating sites being commonly
advertised, it has opened up a large audience for scammers seeking
vulnerable people wanting a relationship. It makes the scammer's life
easier because he or she can direct their efforts at building a
friendship right away and not have to worry about finding the potential
victim who is seeking a relationship.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), in 2012 there were 1,460 complaints from Canada of romance fraud. Of those, 1,047 victims were identified and their combined financial losses exceeded $14.8 million - more than any other identified financial loss due to fraud. Almost 70
per cent of all victims were in their 40s and 50s.
Single or recently unattached people - often female - are the victims of
criminals who initially approach their targets online. Usually this
occurs through e-mail blasts, social media platforms, or singles and
dating-related 'meet' websites. In some cases, prolonged interaction
with individuals has cost some victims tens of thousands of dollars
before the relationship ends - usually after the culprit gets what they
Police add all fraud is under-reported. However, the romance scam not
only affects a person financially, it is an emotional roller coaster.
Therefore, a victim is dealing with emotional and financial losses
leading to the crime being under-reported.
If you suspect you or someone you know has been a victim of romance
fraud, or if you have already sent funds, don't be embarrassed - you're
not alone. Contact your local police service or Crime Stoppers at
FRAUD…Recognize it…Report it…Stop it.
"The impact of romance fraud is staggering, both personally and
financially. All computer users should educate themselves and use best
practices to ensure their personal and financial security. Only give
out your personal information where it is absolutely necessary and when
you trust the person you are dealing with."
- Deputy Commissioner Scott TOD, OPP Investigations and Organized Crime
"Dating and romance scammers try to lower your defences by appealing to
your romantic and compassionate side. Ask yourself - 'Would someone I have never met really declare their love for me after
only a few letters or emails?' If the answer is no, report it to police."
- Detective Inspector Paul Beesley, OPP Anti-Rackets Branch
Tips to Avoid Being a Victim of a Romance / Dating Scam
Check website addresses carefully. Scammers often set up fake websites
with very similar addresses to legitimate dating websites.
Never send money, or give credit card or online account details to
anyone you do not know and trust. A request to send money to a foreign
country to someone you have never personally met should be a red flag.
Don't give out any personal information in an email or when you are
chatting online. Like any scam, use your computer to your advantage.
Educate yourself. Check the name, the company name, and the addresses
OPP - March is Fraud Prevention Month
Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services (video link) - Romance Fraud
Financial Consumer Agency of Canada - Online Fraud
MEDIA NOTE: This is the third of five weekly OPP media releases on various criminal
activities as part of Fraud Prevention Month.
SOURCE: Ontario Provincial Police
For further information:
Contact: Detective Constable Ted Schendera
OPP Anti-Rackets Branch