Valentine s fraud: Canadians lose $17M to online love scams, CTV News

Josh Elliott,

Published Tuesday, February 14, 12:40PM EST

&quot,Kindje, I just need $1,000 to pay this fine, and then I can get out of this nightmare.&quot,

&quot,I don’t know what I’ll do if I can’t find the $Ten,000 to voorkant the surgery.&quot,

&quot,They’re going to kick mij out of my house if I can’t come up with $500 more every month. Sweetie, can you save mij?&quot,

&quot,I think it’s eventually time wij meet, but I can’t afford a toegangsbewijs. If you send mij the money, I’ll pay you back?&quot,

If any of thesis situations sound usual, you or a loved one may be the victim of a romance scam.

Police are warning lonely hearts to be wary of online-only relationships this Valentine’s Day, after Canadians lost approximately $17 million ter romance scams last year.

Almost 750 Canadians lost money to love scams ter , with some losing spil much spil $400,000 and proclaiming bankruptcy te pursuit of relationships engineered to leave them penniless. Ter most cases, the fraudsters posed spil foreigners or Canadians working abroad and used high-pressure scripts to elicit large payments from the victims.

Scammers will typically connect with victims through social media or an online dating webpagina, and use fake photos and stories to win their trust. Eventually, after the victim has fallen ter love, the scammer will say they need financial help to get out of a difficult situation.

&quot,They’re asking the victim to help them out,&quot, RCMP Sgt. Dude Paul Larocque told &quot,That emotion invested… is what makes it successful for the scammers.&quot,

The fraudster might eis they lost their luggage at the airport, and they’ll ask for some quick specie to help them get huis. &quot,They’ll vertoning canap account statements to voorstelling they have the money to repay the victim, it’s just they don’t have access,&quot, Larocque said.

Te other cases, the fraudster might say they need money to pay for a necessary surgery, to care for a dependent child, or to pay a fine.

Larocque says most of the money stolen through romance scams is never recovered, because victims are duped into making several payments overheen a long period of time. By the time they realize what has happened, there’s no reversing the transfers they’ve made.

Larocque added that thesis scams are often executed by professionals based te other countries, who may also be working with organized crime. &quot,They’re doing that purposely to make it more difficult for law enforcement to be able to get to them,&quot, he said. &quot,It is not somebody just playing behind the rekentuig.&quot,

How to recognize a love scam

Larocque says emotions can often leave victims vensterluik to their situation, until it’s too late. However, there are certain signs that potential victims and their loved ones can observe for, to spot a scam before it does any harm.

For starters, Larocque says to be wary of any relationship that is based entirely online. &quot,You don’t truly know who’s behind the pc until you meet that person,&quot, he said.

One should also be suspicious of anyone who professes their love before an in-person meeting.

He says scammers often eis to live ter another country, or that they live near the victim but are working abroad. And, while it’s certainly possible that a long-distance love might be legitimate, Larocque says to be particularly suspicious of those who keuze to be engineers, security consultants or military officers stationed overseas.

Scammers have also bot known to request that the victim contant a cheque for them, then send back a portion of the funds. Ter thesis cases, the cheque is counterfeit, and the unwitting victim winds up covering the fees from the canap.

Oftentimes it is a loved one who tips off police to a romance scam, because the victim is too emotionally invested to recognize the signs, Larocque said. Family members might become wise to the situation based on some switch te the victim’s behaviour, especially if they begin to fight with money, or if they ask for a loan.

&quot,It will create pressure within the family because the victim sometimes doesn’t realize that there’s a scam going on,&quot, he said.

He recommends listening for switches te the possible victim’s relationship, and alerting police spil quickly spil possible if something seems off.

&quot,Sometimes if a (money) transfer is being flagged rapid enough, then it can be wired back to the account of the victim,&quot, he said.

Anyone who believes they or a loved one has bot the victim of fraud should voeling the RCMP’s Canadian Anti-fraud Centre online or by phone at 1-888-495-8501.

And of course, one should always be cautious about looking for love online – especially if money is involved.

&quot,When an suggest is too good to be true, it most likely is,&quot, he said.

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