Thursday, March 14, 2013

Romance Fraud Takes a Huge Personal and Financial Toll

(Dufferin County, ON) One of the fastest growing and most devastating fraud schemes in Canada is perpetrated through romance scams, according to members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Anti-Rackets Branch.

The romance scam has been around for decades. However, with the prominence of the internet and online dating sites being commonly advertised, it has opened up a large audience for scammers seeking vulnerable people wanting a relationship.
It makes the scammer’s life easier because he or she can direct their efforts at building a friendship right away and not have to worry about finding the potential victim who is seeking a relationship.

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), in 2012 there were 1,460 complaints from Canada of romance fraud. Of those, 1,047 victims were identified and their combined financial losses exceeded $14.8 million – more than any other identified financial loss due to fraud. Almost 70 per cent of all victims were in their 40s and 50s.

Single or recently unattached people – often female – are the victims of criminals who initially approach their targets online. Usually this occurs through e-mail blasts, social media platforms, or singles and dating-related ‘meet’ websites. In some cases, prolonged interaction with individuals has cost some victims tens of thousands of dollars before the relationship ends – usually after the culprit gets what they want.

Police add all fraud is under-reported. However, the romance scam not only affects a person financially, it is an emotional roller coaster. Therefore, a victim is dealing with emotional and financial losses leading to the crime being under-reported.

If you suspect you or someone you know has been a victim of romance fraud, or if you have already sent funds, don't be embarrassed - you're not alone. Contact your local police service or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

For public safety tips residents may check out the OPP web-site at www.opp.ca.