The North Bay Police Service is currently investigating a report of a romance scam involving a local woman who lost thousands of dollars to a fraudster. The unknown suspect contacted her through an online dating site and used her emotions to build a connection and develop an online relationship with her. Without ever meeting her in person, the fraudster convinced her to send funds.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reports that in 2016, “689 victims lost over $14.3 million to scammers pretending to be in love.”
Romance scams leave victims heartbroken and ashamed of their financial loss. The fraudsters use fake names, post profile photos of someone else, tell false stories about their lives and play with a victim’s emotions to lure them in. A romance scam victim is often convinced to send funds to the same frauster multiple times without ever meeting the fraudster in person.
Examples of false scenarios include:
- the fraudster is located in a faraway country and needs money for travel to meet the victim
- the fraudster needs funds for an emergency or an urgency, such as a sick family member
- the “rich & succesful” fraudster needs funds to pay employees and promises to pay the victim back
- money is needed to secure a large business contract
- while travelling, a government seized funds from the fraudster and won’t release the money until a fine is paid
How to protect yourself against a romance scam
- Be wary if someone you meet online contacts you often with frequent displays of affection and early confessions of deep love without ever meeting you.
- Never under any circumstance send money, or banking or credit card information, or online bank account details to anyone you have never met in person and do not know and trust
- Be cautious when conversing with an individual that claims to live close to you but is working overseas. This is a set up for the fraudster to provide numerous reasons to ask for money.
- If you receive a "pay cheque" or another form of payment from someone you have met online and they ask you to cash it and send them a portion of the funds – don't do it! It's a counterfeit cheque and you wil be responsible to cover any fees from the bank.
If you believe you are a victim of a romance scam, contact your bank immediately and report the fraud to the North Bay Police Service at 705-497-5555.
The Little Black Book of Scams
Check out the Competition Bureau of Canada's Little Black Book of Scams: Your Guide to Protection Against Fraud to increase your awareness of the vast array of scams that target Canadians and for easy steps you can take to protect yourself.