It might not be love – it might be a scam.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, RCMP are urging caution for people looking for love on the romantic holiday. Scammers “love” to go online and extort people on dating sites with so-called “romance scams,” they said.
In 2018, some 760 victims in Canada reported losses of more than $22.5 million to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, surpassing all other types of fraud.
In Manitoba, 42 scams were reported, with 31 victims and a total loss of $812,007.
Scammers are known to get to know a person online, work to gain their trust, then extract significant amounts of money from their victims. RCMP said that the more trust the scammer gains, the more the victim often loses.
The RCMP provided a list of tips to avoid falling prey to these romance scams:
- Be skeptical when chatting with an individual who claims to live nearby but is currently overseas for work (this can be a set-up to ask for money later).
- Be suspicious if they refuse or continuously cancel video chats and in person meetings.
- Be wary when someone you’ve never met in person professes their love.
- Scammers may also ask for help covering the cost of an emergency situation, such as a sick family member. Protect yourself by never, under any circumstances, sending money for any reason.
RCMP said that people looking for that special someone are a favourite target of scammers because they can be more emotionally vulnerable than people in relationships.