February 14, 2019 8:51 am

It’s Valentine’s Day, and police are cautioning against romance scams

The OPP logo.

Nick Westoll/Global News File

Don’t let a romance scam break your heart this Valentine’s Day.

Provincial police are warning people about a ploy that’s swindled Ontarians out of millions of dollars, and is said to be targeting a growing number of people, often women.

READ MORE: Romance scam costs Ontario senior $140K

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“This usually occurs through contact online, via email blasts, social media like Facebook or Twitter, or singles and dating-related meet websites,” said Cst. Ed Sanchuk of the Norfolk County OPP.

The fraudster will spend time communicating with the victim and establishing a level of trust before stealing personal information or money.

Sanchuk is reminding people not to give out personal information online, and to use a computer to your advantage.

“Educate yourself. Check out the person’s name and company name, the address used, and also ask yourself, ‘Would someone I’ve never met declare their love for me after only a few letters or emails?'”

READ MORE: Romance scams are on the rise. Here’s how to avoid them

The Better Business Bureau says romance scams are on the rise, costing victims millions of dollars in Canada and the U.S.

The BBB says from 2015 to 2018, more than $1 billion in losses were recorded from victims of both sides of the border. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre in 2018, the reported loss from romance scams was $24,949,073.04. That compares with $21,099,187.63 in 2017.

Those numbers could be higher. Sanchuk says people might not tell family members or police about falling victim to a romance scam, because they’re embarrassed. He’s urging people to contact their local police authority so they can investigate, and get information about various kinds of scams out to the community.”

“There’s someone out there for anyone apparently,” Sanchuk said. “That person will eventually come along, but if that person is asking for personal information, they’re asking you to transfer money — that person is not for you.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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