Fraudsters like to break hearts, police say, even around Valentine’s Day.
According to an RCMP release, scammers push romance scams onto unsuspecting victims – often in the days leading up to Feb. 14 – that can cause many to lose significant amounts of money and heartache in the process.
While social media pictures are often used to lure victims, either to portray themselves, their family or pets, the release noted that a new twist to the scam involves randomly received message by the victim that may read “where have you been” or “where are you” in order to strike up a conversation and build a relationship.
“The purpose of the scam is to foster a sense of trust so that in the near future the fraudster can ask their victim for money and they willingly oblige,” said reserve Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson, in the release.
Reasons money may be requested include a personal or family emergency, a claim to have no access to money, or unexpected business, legal or travel fees.
The release also noted red flags to be aware of include if someone professes their love before meeting in-person, if attempts to meet up in-person are routinely cancelled, or if the profile seems “too perfect.” People can protect themselves from potential scammers by not accepting friend requests from people they don’t know and by never sending money to someone they haven’t met in person.
Those that believe they may be a victim can report fraud online at centreantifraude.ca/report-signalez-eng.htm, by calling local police or reaching the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.