If someone you don’t know is attempting to win your affection over the Internet, you might be the target of a romance scam, the RCMP warns.
According to a news release, romance scams involve the victim and the fraudster meeting through a social-networking site. The fraudster will gain the trust of the victim through displays of affection. While the fraudster is usually located in another country, that person will eventually want to meet the victim in person, but will advise they can't afford to travel and will seek assistance from the victim in covering travel costs.
Other variations of the scam include the fraudster presenting situations of emergency or urgency, such as a sick family member, and seeking financial assistance from the victim for various costs.
The RCMP notes some incidents have occurred involving a local fraudster. Victims end up actually meeting the suspects to go out on dates and meeting at the victim's residence. These cases create concerns for personal safety. For example, in one incident the victim reported having her wallet and some jewellery stolen from her home.
Police note such scams have proliferated with the increase use of social media — social networking sites and dating sites. These sites are most common with scams that require a level of trust between the victim and the fraudster.
Indicators of someone being a victim of a possible romance scam include:
A distressed person worried about a loved one; a person talking about a good friend or loved one in another country who is coming to visit or needs help; mentions Western Union or MoneyGram; frequenting the bank more often; making unusual withdrawals both in amounts and frequency; making multiple withdrawals ranging from $500 to $3,000 in cash; making large dollar wire transfers to countries in Africa, Asia or Eastern Europe.
If you think you or someone has been a victim of fraud, contact the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre 1-888-495-8501 or www.antifraudcentre.ca.