October 10, 2017 2:12 pm
Updated: October 10, 2017 6:38 pm

Online dating scams have cost Albertans $3.6M so far this year: RCMP

Online dating scams are on the rise in Alberta.

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Alberta RCMP are warning daters to be careful in their online pursuit of love.

In a news release Tuesday, police said there has been a significant increase in online dating scams over the past few years and that often these crimes go unreported.

RCMP said 56 individuals have come forward since the beginning of 2017 to report online dating scams in Alberta.

“This accounts for a total net loss of over $3.6 million.”

Sgt. Jack Poitras said the highest amount transferred at once was $600,000.

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“It’s a large amount of money being scammed by these people,” he said.

RCMP believe the number of romance scams is probably much higher than the stated number since these types of crimes are typically under-reported due to the “substantial embarrassment often felt by victims.”

“Unfortunately for the victims, they feel kind of ashamed of having sent so much money, so they may not report it to the police,” Poitras said.

According to police, the most common ruses have the scammer making up an emergency that is often health-related, concerning either themselves or a family member.

“Scammers convince their victims that they are in love with them and persuade them into sending large sums of money for a variety of invented reasons,” RCMP said.

READ MORE: Canadians lost $16.9M to romance scams in 2015, fraud specialist says

Const. Scott Noseworthy said certain age groups would feel the effects of these crimes more than others.

“This is the type of crime that can completely destroy a person’s life, especially for individuals over 50.”

Noseworthy said men and women over 50 comprise the most common age group targeted and they often “have less opportunity to rebuild and recover from the losses.”

Poitras said it is often impossible to trace these types of transfers, and people likely will never see their money again.

“Don’t trust everybody you talk to online and don’t send large amounts of money because chances are, it’s not going where you think it is.”

READ MORE: How to avoid online romance scams this Valentine’s Day

RCMP listed some red flags to watch out for from online suitors. Be wary of someone:

  • Claiming to be from your area but is living or travelling abroad; (Source: Get Cyber Safe)
  • Expressing strong feelings for you after very little time; (Source: Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre)
  • Saying they can’t meet in person due to a tragic event; (Source: Get Cyber Safe)
  • Making plans to meet but then coming up with excuses at the last minute;
  • Asking you for financial help, regardless of circumstance.

If you believe you or someone you know has been a victim of an online dating scam, report it to your local police, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or online.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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