Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre secures $32,000 for romance scam victim

February 2022 – Love is in the air, but not in the way that you would hope for.

On January 10, 2022 the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) of was made aware of a romance scam whereby the victim entered an online relationship with an unknown person. Over a period of time, the individual proceeded to gain the victim's trust and eventually defraud them. Information received by the CAFC included several Hong Kong banking addresses. The CAFC liaised with Interpol Hong Kong and the Anti-Deception Coordination Centre (ADCC) in Hong Kong, leading to a temporary freeze of a portion of lost funds, giving the victim an opportunity to submit a bank claim.

On January 19, 2022, the CAFC in collaboration with Interpol and the ADCC, successfully froze approximately $32,000 in relation to the romance scam. When a victim recognizes that they have been defrauded, it is important to quickly report the event to the CAFC. Once money is successfully transferred from the victim, the funds are quickly moved to additional accounts or pulled out of accounts altogether, to reduce the possibility of the banking institution freezing the illicit funds.

Valentine's Day gives Canadians the opportunity to spend valued time with loved ones, or perhaps the opportunity for one to meet another. It's also an opportunity for fraudsters to target Canadians looking for a relationship. In 2021, the CAFC received 1,928 reports of romance scams totalling $64,604,718 in losses, compared to 1,546 reports and $28,989,750 in losses in 2020. Although romance scam reports have been relatively stable from 2020 to 2021, scammers have been able to defraud Canadian victims of substantially more money.

Moving closer to Valentine's Day, the CAFC is cautioning Canadians to be aware of scams and fraud. Romance scams are becoming more popular, with scammers using isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic to their advantage. In romance scams, a scammer convinces a victim to enter a virtual, online relationship. As trust and affection develop, the scammer then uses emotional leverage to request money or cryptocurrency, gifts, investments, or may send money to the victim to build further trust or engage the victim as a money mule. Looking for love online can be more expensive than you think!

Hints that online conversation may lead to a romance scam include:

If you believe that you or a loved one are being targeted by a scam or fraud, report the activity to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. If you or someone you know are receiving threatening messages, contact your local police. It is also recommended that you report all fraud victimizations or attempted fraud occurrences to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, or by telephone at 1-888-495-8501.

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