March is Fraud Prevention Month #dontbeavictim
ORILLIA, ON, March 21, 2016 /CNW/ - Romance scams cause victims severe financial hardship and personal embarrassment, which, despite massive losses, inhibits their decision to report the crime.
Members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Anti-Rackets Branch say criminals use the Romance Scam to seek potential victims online, generally single or recently unattached people. Usually this form of mass marketing fraud occurs through singles and dating-related 'meet' websites, social media platforms, or e-mail blasts. In some cases, prolonged interaction with individuals has cost some victims tens of thousands of dollars before the 'relationship' ends, usually without ever meeting in person. Among the most vulnerable are seniors.
In 2015, the Romance Scam generated 298 complaints and claimed 216 victims in Ontario who lost $7.9 million. Police admit 95 percent of the crimes go unreported.
As part of the annual Fraud Prevention Month awareness campaign, the OPP and its partners at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre have some tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of the Romance Scam.
- Don't give out any personal information in an email or when you are chatting online. Educate yourself. Check the person's name, the company name, and the addresses used.
- 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.
- Never send money, or give personal 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.
- Check website addresses carefully. Scammers often set up fake websites with addresses that are very similar to legitimate dating websites.
If you or someone you know suspect they've been a victim of the Romance Scam, contact your local police service. You can also file a complaint through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or online at https://www.tipsubmit.com/start.htm
"Recognize, Reject and Report Fraud"
"One of the most devastating fraud schemes in Canada is perpetrated through the romance scam. It is an emotional roller coaster for victims who deal with emotional and financial losses associated with this deception."
– A/Deputy Commissioner F. (Fred) BERTUCCA,
OPP Investigations and Organized Crime Command
"Despite the cruelties involved and the emotional trauma sustained, it's still important for victims of the romance scam to report the crime. All users of computers and the online world should educate themselves and use best practices to ensure their personal and financial security."
– Detective Insp. Mike BICKERTON,
Director – OPP Anti-Rackets Branch
During the month of March, the OPP and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre partners -- the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Competition Bureau of Canada –, are joining police services across the country to help prevent all Canadians from becoming victims of fraud. The OPP is posting tips and links to various resources online to help the public recognize, reject and report fraud on social media by using the hashtags #FPM2016 #DontBeAVictim and #OPPtips.
OPP Official YouTube Community Safety Video – Romance Fraud
Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services (video link) - Romance Fraud
MEDIA NOTE: This is the second in a series of five topic-specific OPP media releases on various criminal activities as part of Fraud Prevention Month. The next topic is the Service-type scams, such as bogus online computer repair offers.
SOURCE Ontario Provincial Police
For further information: Detective Constable Ted SCHENDERA, OPP Anti-Rackets Branch, Phone: 705-329-6437