Romance scams continue to cause severe financial harm on consumers which has a profound impact. In 2016, 689 victims lost over $14.3 million to scammers pretending to be in love.
Fraudsters steal photos and use dating sites and social media to lure potential victims into sending money for various reasons. The fraudsters have shown that they are willing to develop the relationship over an extended period of time. This increases the trust level between the victim and the fraudster which results in the potential victim usually losing more money.
The fraudster will gain the trust of the victim through displays of affection. In some cases will send gifts, flowers and tokens to prove that their feelings are genuine. While the fraudster is usually located in a faraway country, eventually they will state that they want to meet the potential victim in person. It is at this time the fraudster will advise they can't afford to travel and will seek assistance from the victim in covering travel costs. Other variations include the fraudster presenting situations of emergency or urgency, such as a sick family member and seeking financial assistance from the victim for various costs.
How to protect yourself
- Be wary if fraudsters want to develop a quick relationship with you, and be suspicious when someone you haven't met professes their love to you.
- Never under any circumstances send money for any reason.
- 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've 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'll be responsible to cover any fees from the bank.
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