The RCMP Commercial Crime Section is warning the public of "Romance scams" targeting the province.
In 2011 romance scams emerged as highest grossing scams with over 12 million in losses reported by Canadians. This scam has also lead to incidents of suicide in cases where victims have lost their life saving and have been emotionally destroyed.
Romance scams will continue to have a profound impact on Canadians and cause severe financial loss in 2012.
These 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.
In the romance scam the fraudsters have demonstrated that they are willing to develop the relationship over extended periods of time. This increases the trust level between the victim and fraudster and will result in higher dollar losses. This also results in a negative social impact on the victim as they have developed emotional and psychological attachment to the fraudster.
Generally, 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 a far away country, eventually want to meet the victim in person. It is at this time the fraudster will advise they can't afford to travel and will seek assistance from the victim in covering travel cost. Other variations include the fraudster presenting situations of emergency/ urgency, such as a sick family member, and seeking financial assistance from the victim for various costs.
Some incidents have also occurred at the local level and involved the victims actually meeting the suspects to go out on dates and meeting at the victim's residence. These cases are creating concerns for personal safety. For example, in one incident the victim reported having her wallet and some jewellery stolen from home.
Distressed citizen worried about a loved one
Talking about a good friend or loved one in another country that 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 $3000 in cash
Making large dollar wire transfers to countries in Africa, Asia or Eastern Europe
If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud please contact the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre 1 888 495 8501 or www.antifraudcentre.ca Fraud: Recognize It, Report It, Stop It.
For more information, contact:
Cpl. Colleen Noble
RCMP Commercial Crime Section