February 10, 2021: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the CAFC has seen an increase in online scams that target individuals in isolation due to the lock downs and travel restrictions. This includes fraudsters targeting people looking for companionship or love through dating sites and social media.
With valentine’s day just around the corner, Canadians should be on the lookout for romance scams. In 2020 alone, Canadians lost more than $18.5 million to this scam.
- Email and text
A scammer convinces you to enter a virtual, online relationship so the scammer can gain your trust and affection. This can occur through:
- Email messages
- Fake profiles on social media and dating sites
Eventually, the scammer may ask you:
- for money for travel, a medical emergency or family assistance – making it seem urgent or like an emergency
- to receive money for them – by doing so you might unknowingly be committing a crime
- to join a business venture with them
- to invest in cryptocurrency
Scammers will try to use any means necessary to convince you that their requests are legitimate. The majority of fraud is not committed by amateurs and they will use technology to their advantage.
Look out for these red flags and be suspicious:
- when someone you haven’t met in person professes their love to you
- if the person wants to quickly move to a private or different mode of communication (email, text, Whatsapp, Google Hangouts etc.)
- if they always have an excuse not to meet in person
- if you receive poorly/oddly written messages, sometimes even addressing you by the wrong name
- if the individual claims to live close to you but is working overseas
- if they act distressed or angry to guilt you into sending money
- if the individual discourages you from discussing them or their situation with your friends and family (attempting to isolate you from those who may be suspicious of the relationship)
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