Mounties in Richmond are warning the public after a rise in romance scams in the city over the past couple of weeks.
Richmond RCMP say they received five reports of crypto-investment scams in a 10-day period earlier this month.
While Mounties say these types of frauds are not uncommon in Richmond, five reports in such a short amount of time is concerning.
“These scams are hugely traumatizing for the victims as they truly believe they are involved in a romantic relationship,” says Richmond RCMP Cpl. Adriana O’Malley, in a news release Tuesday.
“It shows just how far these fraudsters are willing to go to defraud people of their money.”
B.C. RCMP also issued a warning earlier this month, after seeing a dramatic spike in crypto-investment scams across the province.
British Columbians reported losses of $3.5 million from online scams in the first eight months of 2021, which is more than triple the amount that was lost last year, police say.
On average, only five per cent of fraud victims report such incidents to authorities, according to B.C. RCMP.
“Richmond RCMP want to ensure the community of Richmond knows we are not immune to these scams,” says O’Malley.
How the scams work
Potential fraud victims are approached on dating apps and other social media sites;
After developing an online relationship, the fraudster then brings up investment opportunities and convinces the person to make payments;
The fraudsters will identify a person’s friend and take control of their social media accounts to further convince the person to take advantage of the supposed investment opportunity;
Fraudsters will research potential victims ahead of time by reviewing their social media posts to gather information to gain their trust;
The fraudster will then convince the victim to provide remote access to their computer;
They may claim they will use an investor’s money to buy digital currencies and then cut off all communication after receiving the funds.
Richmond RCMP says so far in 2021, Mounties have investigated 73 reports of fraud in the city. Officers are encouraging all victims of fraud to come forward and report such incidents to police as soon as possible.