Guelph police say a 68-year-old woman lost $5,500 in a so-called romance scam and are warning the public to be cautious when dealing with people on the internet.
The woman called the police on Wednesday to report the scam.
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“She had been communicating with someone she met on a social media site who claimed he was overseas for work and his bank card had been confiscated,” police said in a news release.
The man asked her to send $5,500 and she did, according to police.
The service said after the man asked her for a second and much larger amount, the woman realized she had been scammed.
Guelph police also released a list of signs that could help tip off potential victims before they lose money.
For example, police said a scammer will tell someone everything they want to hear, reading their profile and claiming to like the same things that are listed.
They will also claim to live overseas or find excuses about why they can’t meet in person or have a video conversation.
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Usually, scammers will create situations to play on the victim’s sympathy, such as a sick loved one or sudden expenses like an accident or legal troubles, police said.
They will also try to move to a private mode of communication to gain personal contact information and some will even profess their love after just a few conversations.
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Police also offered some tips, such as never sharing personal information such as a birth date or financial information, and never sending money for any reason.
The service also suggests watching for poorly written or vague messages, and inconsistencies between their online profile and what they are telling you.
Never send intimate photos, police said, as they can be used for extortion and always be cautious when messaging someone who says they live close by but are overseas.
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In 2020, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) received 899 complaints related to romance scams involving 620 victims losing a combined $18.5 million.
Scams or incidents of fraud can be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or by calling 1-888-495-8501.
—with files from 980 CFPL’s Jacquelyn LeBel
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