People searching for love are being duped by con artists in what is being described as the most common crime used by online scammers.
The RCMP is asking Canadians to be wary of opening their hearts — and wallets — to potential online scammers.
In 2016, 748 victims lost over $17 million to scammers pretending to be in love. Scammers create fake online profiles on dating websites and social media, and attempt to gain their victim’s affection and trust. They develop the relationship over an extended period of time, increasing their victim’s trust. Typically, the higher the trust level, the more money lost.
The RCMP encourages individuals looking for companionship through these websites to be cautious: be suspicious when someone you haven’t met professes their love; be skeptical when chatting with an individual who claims to live nearby but is working overseas (this can be a set up so that they can later ask for money). Scammers may also say they have an emergency, such as a sick family member and need help covering costs. Protect yourself by never, under any circumstances, sending money for any reason.
If you believe you have been a victim of this scam:
Contact your bank and place a stop payment on any cheque or money transfer.
Report it to your local police.