Norfolk OPP are reminding people to be vigilant after two seniors were bilked of $240,000 in two separate scams.
Police were contacted on Jan. 15 by an employee at a local bank to report a fraud.
It was determined that a bank client had been defrauded of about $200,000 after they established an online relationship through a dating website.
Police say the suspect asked to borrow money from the victim to help with several emergencies. Between July 2018 and this month, the victim forwarded about $200,000.
Police say single women are among a growing number of people being victimized by fraudsters, usually through email, dating websites, and other social media sites. In some cases, say police, the crimes occur after prolonged interaction with the victims.
In another scam, an elderly Norfolk resident received several calls between Jan. 14 and 17 from a stranger saying they’d won a $9-million lottery prize. The victim was told to forward money and keep it a secret until the winnings arrived. The senior forwarded about $40,000 to an address in Odessa, Ontario.
A family member of the victim called police after realizing the money had been taken from their bank account.
Police say anyone who receives a call about winning a lottery or other prizes should hang up the phone because it’s a scam.
Police say consumers can take basic steps to better protect themselves from becoming victims of fraud, such as never giving out personal information over the phone, or through social media/dating websites.
Always get independent advice – from family members, a trusted friend or advisor – if any offers involve money, personal information, time or commitment.
Other tips to avoid being a victim of a dating scam are:
- Check website addresses carefully. Scammers often set up fake websites with very similar addresses to legitimate dating websites. Make sure you only use legitimate and reputable dating websites.
- Never send money, or give credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust. A request to send money to a foreign country (using Western Union or MoneyGram) to a person you have never personally met should be a red flag.
- Don’t give out any personal information in an email or when you are chatting online. Like any scam, use your computer to your advantage. Educate yourself. Check the person’s name, the company name the addresses used, and ask yourself, “Would this be normal?”
- Ask yourself – “Would someone I have never met really declare their love for me after only a few letters or emails?”
For more information on fraud, call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or http://www.antifraudcentre.ca.