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Crime Stoppers warns of Jeremy Renner romance scam

A romance scam, with the scam artist pretending to be Hollywood actor Jeremy Renner, has made its way to B.C.
A romance scam, with the scam artist pretending to be Hollywood actor Jeremy Renner, has made its way to B.C. The Associated Press

Another scam is making the rounds in B.C., this one a romance rip-off involving Hollywood actor Jeremy Renner.

This week, Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers said a Vernon resident was contacted via social media by a scam artist pretending to be Renner.

READ MORE: OPP issue warning after Perth County senior loses $20,000 to romance scam

“The scammer has made promises to come to the victim’s location and meet up with them, but, of course, there is a hitch,” Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers s said.

“The scammer needs money for various reasons, i.e. for airfare, passport fees, etc.”

Consumer Matters: Romance scam leads to family tragedy
Consumer Matters: Romance scam leads to family tragedy

That Renner – a highly successful actor – needs financial help for airfare or passport fees is laughable. For example, Celebrity Net Worth said Renner is worth $50 million US.

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On his Twitter account, Renner issued a warning, saying “Dear fans, please do NOT engage with any fakes on social media asking for money or anything else…”

READ MORE: ‘Psychic’ Florida woman sentenced after $1.6M scam to remove curse

Below are tips from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre on how to spot and response to scams.

A romance scam involves any individual with false romantic intentions toward a victim in order to gain their trust and affection for the purpose of obtaining the victim’s money or access to their bank accounts or credit cards. In some cases the suspect will even attempt to get the victim to commit fraud on their behalf, as a money mule (accepting, then transferring money or goods) often unknowingly.

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Most romance scams begin via social media sites or online dating sites.

Reject it

  • Be suspicious when someone you haven’t met in person professes their love to you.
  • Be wary when someone you meet on social media wants to quickly move to a private mode of communication (email, text).
  • If trying to set up an in-person meeting, be suspicious if they always have an excuse not to meet.
  • If you do actually set up a meeting – tell family and friends when and where you’re going and meet in a local, public place.
  • Do not share personal (birthdate, address) or financial information with anyone you’ve only just met online or in person.
  • Never send intimate photos or video of yourself. The scammer may try to use these to blackmail you into sending money.
  • Be cautious when conversing with an individual that claims to live close to you but is working overseas.
  • Never under any circumstance send money for any reason.
  • If you suspect a loved one may be a victim of a romance scam, explain the concerns and risks and help them get out of the situation.
Peterborough police urge caution when it comes to online romances
Peterborough police urge caution when it comes to online romances

Investigate

  • Do an image search of the admirer to see if their photo has been taken from a stock photo site or someone else’s online profile;
  • Look for inconsistencies in their online profile versus what they tell you;
  • Watch for poorly written, vague messages, sometimes even addressing you by wrong name – often scammers are working several victims at once;
  • If you have transferred money, stop the transaction if possible.
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Ontario widow loses life savings in romance scam
Ontario widow loses life savings in romance scam

Report it

  • If you did send money or share financial information, report it to the financial institution used, e.g. your bank, Western Union, MoneyGram.
  • Gather all information pertaining to the situation, including the scammer’s profile name, how you made contact, social media screenshots, emails, etc. and contact your local police.
  • File a report with the CAFC toll-free at 1-888-495-8501 or online http://www.antifraudcentre.ca.
  • Notify the dating website or social media site where you met the scammer. Be proactive.
  • If you’ve sent money or transferred money or goods on behalf of a scammer, the police and financial institutions need to be aware in order to properly investigate, recover stolen funds and/or goods if possible and work toward preventing further criminal activity.
  • Reporting romance scams helps fraud authorities to warn other people about current scams, monitor trends and disrupt scams where possible.