Ontario residents should be on the lookout for romance fraudsters trying to swindle you out of your money and love.
In 2021, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) received a significant increase in romance fraud reports amounting to $64.6 million in losses. In 2020, romance fraud reports amounted to $27.9 million in losses. These losses have a devastating effect on Canadian victims.
In Romance Scams, fraudsters gain the trust of the victim by carrying on a relationship over a period of time. This can include displays of affection, such as sending gifts, flowers and tokens to prove that their feelings are genuine. In many cases, the fraudster will claim to be professional business people or military personnel that are travelling or stationed abroad. Once trust is gained, fraudsters begin to ask for financial assistance for reasons like urgent situations (e.g. a sick family member or to complete a business transaction) or to return to the country (e.g. plane ticket, lawyer fees, or duty & taxes).
- Attempts to meet in person never happen, there’s always an excuse why they can’t meet, or didn’t show.
- Fraudsters want to develop a quick relationship with you. Be suspicious if someone you haven’t met professes their love to you.
- Be cautious of an individual that claims to live close to you, but is working overseas. This is a set up for the fraudster to provide you with many reasons to ask for money.
- If you are asked to accept payment from someone you’ve met online and send a part of the funds back to them or someone else – don’t do it!
- Lately, fraudsters may ask you to invest in a new business venture or cryptocurrency – this is a scam!
How to protect yourself
- Never, send money to someone you’ve never met.
- Protect your personal and financial information.
- Don’t share personal or financial information with anyone you’ve only met online or by phone.
- Never send intimate photos or videos of yourself. They can be used to blackmail you.
- If you meet someone online, verify who they are. Research their name and other details, and do a reverse image search of photos to see if they appear on the web or someone else’s online profile.
Leading up to Fraud Prevention Month this March, the OPP is committed to working together to create awareness highlighting the various ways that all Canadians are being targeted by fraud. Through awareness and education, Canadians can be better prepared and protected.
If you do fall victim to a fraud or know someone who has, contact your local police service to report the crime, and also report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC). The CAFC collects information on fraud and identity theft Canada wide. Contact the CAFC by phone at 1-888-495-8501 or online by way of the Fraud Reporting System (FRS), even if a financial loss did not occur.
The public is encouraged to engage in the conversation to help recognize, reject and report fraud by using the hashtags #FPM2022 #kNOwFraud, #Take5 #Tell2, #SeriousFraudOfficeON @canantifraud