This Valentine’s Day, the South Simcoe police have shared some helpful tips from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) to ensure residents do not fall victim to online romance scams.
According to officers, those looking for love online should be aware that romance scams often begin on social media or online dating sites, where fraudsters gain the trust and affection of victims in order to convince them to hand over money or personal information.
CAFC says residents should be suspicious when someone they haven’t met in-person professes their love, and should be wary when someone they met on social media wants to quickly move to a private form of communication such as text or email.
If you do plan to meet someone you met online, CAFC says you should tell family and friends where you are going and meet in a local, public place.
Additionally, CAFC says it may be a red flag if someone you met online always has an excuse for why they can’t meet in person.
Officials say you should not share personal or financial information with anyone you’ve only just met online or in person, and you should never send intimate photos or videos of yourself, as the scammer may use them to try to blackmail you.
Further, officials say you should never, under any circumstance, send money for any reason, and you should never accept money to transfer or send elsewhere.
CAFC warns that residents should also be cautious when conversing with an individual who claims to live close but is “working overseas.”
If you are suspicious someone you are in contact with may be a scammer, CAFC says you should do an image search, look for inconsistencies in their online profile and look for poorly written, vague messages.
Officials say scammers are often working on several victims at once. If they address you by the wrong name, it may be a sign that you are being scammed.
CAFC says if you believe you have been scammed and have sent money or shared financial information, you should report it to your financial institution immediately.
Officials say you also should gather all available information including the scammer’s profile name, social media screenshots and emails to file a report with CAFC.
You should also notify the dating website or social media site where you met the scammer.
“Be proactive, tell family, friends, coworkers and neighbours about your experience to warn them about romance scams,” CAFC says.
Anyone who believes they have fallen victim to a romance scam is urged to contact South Simcoe police at 905-775-3311 or 705-436-2141.
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