The Upper Ottawa Valley (UOV) Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is investigating after a local resident reported a loss of over $50,000 in a romance scam.
Police said the victim entered into an online relationship and over the course of several months sent thousands of dollars to the scammer in a foreign country.
The OPP advises residents that romance scams cause victims severe financial hardship and personal embarrassment, which, despite massive losses, often inhibits their decision to report the crime.
According to police, criminals use the romance scam to seek potential victims online, generally single or recently unattached people. Usually, this form of mass marketing fraud occurs through singles and dating-related ‘meet’ websites, social media platforms, or email blasts.
“In some cases, prolonged interaction with individuals has cost some victims tens of thousands of dollars before the ‘relationship’ ends, usually without ever meeting in person. Among the most vulnerable are seniors,” police stated in a press release.
OPP and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre tips to help people avoid becoming a victim of the Romance Scam:
- Don’t give out any personal information in an email or when you are chatting online. Educate yourself. Check the person’s name, the company name, and the addresses used.
- Ask yourself – ‘Would someone I have never met really declare their love for me after only a few letters or emails?’ If the answer is no, report it to police.
- Never send money or give personal credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust. A request to send money to a foreign country to someone you have never personally met should be a red flag.
- Check website addresses carefully. Scammers often set up fake websites with addresses that are very similar to legitimate dating websites.
If you or someone you know suspect they’ve been a victim of the Romance Scam contact your local police service or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-496-8501 or visit their website at www.antifraudcentre.ca