In today’s world of technology, people are able to connect in ways they were never able to in the past.
When you mix a vulnerable heart, the internet and a criminal together you have the recipe for what police call a Romance Scam.
In 2016 the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center reported they received 1,267 complaints of romance scams, with 831 victims and $20,994,467.92 in dollars lost.
How does this happen?
Victims usually meets fraudsters through social networking or dating sites. Fraudsters have demonstrated perseverance and a willingness to develop relationships over long periods of time to build trust. They embed themselves into the victim’s lives to manipulate them and gain access to money, bank accounts, and credit cards. Good, trusting people from all walks of life, just looking for companionship, let down their guards and are taken in by promises of love, riches and even marriage.
In some cases, the fraudsters claim to be in a different country but say they want to meet the victim in person. When it is time to meet they come up with all kinds of excuses why they can’t travel. Stories of family illness, business ventures gone wrong or problems with government processes are just a few. At some point, the fraudsters always seek financial assistance from the victim.
If the victims don’t have funds readily available, the fraudsters offer to have a third party send a cheque for deposit or send an electronic deposit to the victim’s personal bank account. This is usually followed by instructions to withdraw the money and utilize a fast money transfer company to wire the money.
By the time the victim discovers a problem with the cheque or becomes suspicious, the money is long gone, leaving the victim heartbroken and in some cases penniless.
For more information on warning signs or how to protect yourself from romance scams, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website at www.antifraudcentre.ca
Important Fraud Prevention Month dates
• Join the national Twitter event on March 9 at #2Good2BeTrue about fake online endorsements and social media content.
• Be part of the conversation! Join the Twitter event on March 23 from noon to 1 p.m .at #WPSFraudSquad. A WPS financial crimes investigator will be available to answer your questions.
• A free shredding day will be held at St. Vital Centre on March 31 between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Find us at the Shred-It truck (maximum of two bags or boxes per person).
March is Fraud Prevention Month, so the Winnipeg Police Service and Canstar Community News are publishing a series of articles to alert the public to a variety of scams used by fraudsters.