‘Devastated’: Scammers using promise of romance to lure in victims, Manitoba fraud investigator warns

Click to play video: 'Romance scams on the rise'
Romance scams on the rise
Love is in the air this February, but looking for it online may be more expensive than you think – Feb 9, 2023

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Manitoba Financial Services (MFS) is warning would-be lovers to be wary of investment opportunities stemming from romantic propositions.

Jason Roy, a senior investigator with MFS who focuses on investment fraud, says he’s seeing more scammers using love as a catalyst to reel in potential victims.

“With the prevalence of online dating apps, like Tinder and Bumble and those sorts of apps, they will utilize those in order to lure in victims,” he told Global News Winnipeg Morning.

“Eventually the end goal is to extract money from them in an investment scam.”

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg police warn of romance scams'
Winnipeg police warn of romance scams

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, romance scams were the second-highest money-maker for scam artists in 2022.

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Roy says it’s not just those looking for love on dating apps who need to be careful.

He says scammers are also sending fake text messages as a way of starting a conversation with potential victims.

“They’ll send you a text saying, ‘Hey it was nice seeing you at the wedding last weekend,’” he said this week.

“You’ll respond, saying, ‘Oh, I think you’ve got the wrong number’ and they will try to develop a relationship with you.

“Then, at a certain point, the conversation will continue on, and they will say, ‘This is how my uncle makes a bunch of money,’ and they will introduce you to an investment fraud.”

Click to play video: 'Emotional cost of romance scams'
Emotional cost of romance scams

Roy says Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre numbers show investment scams are getting to be more and more profitable for scammers — meaning the cons are likely to keep happening.

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“Two years ago, there was about $30 million in reported fraud nationally. That went up to about $163 million last year,” he said, adding that the problem is likely much worse.

“Really, only between five and 20 per cent of victims report being victimized. So you can see the total impact there, when you look at the numbers.”

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has a list of things to watch out for on its website, including poorly/oddly written messages and messages from people who always seem to have an excuse not to meet in person.

Click to play video: 'Do your research to avoid potential bad dates on Valentine’s Day, cops say'
Do your research to avoid potential bad dates on Valentine’s Day, cops say

The federal agency also warns to be wary of anyone professing their love who you haven’t actually met in person.

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Roy says it’s important victims of romance scams report what has happened, although he acknowledges that can be difficult because he says they are often left “devastated” by the scammer.

“Not only because they’ve lost a significant amount of their life savings, but there’s an emotional component of this relationship and being victimized on that front,” he said.

“They’ve told their friends and family that they’re dating somebody and now that’s turned out to be fictitious and now they’ve also lost their money.

“It’s really quite sad.”

If you or someone you know is a victim of an online romance scam, you can file a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Click to play video: 'Safety while dating online, red flags and the prevalence of romance scams'
Safety while dating online, red flags and the prevalence of romance scams



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