Romance scam exacts devastating loss
SOUTH DUNDAS — A South Dundas resident has been swindled out of nearly $45,000 by a fraudster on an online dating site, according to the SD&G OPP.
The victim notified the detachment yesterday after falling for the ploy in which the scammer claimed to need money — via Bitcoin — to assist with releasing a consignment box from Puerto Rican custom authorities.
The situation has the SD&G OPP reminding the public that criminals use the Romance Scam to find potential victims online, generally single or recently unattached people of all ages. Usually this form of mass marketing fraud occurs through singles and dating-related ‘meet’ websites, social media platforms, or e-mail blasts. In some cases, prolonged interaction with individuals has cost some victims tens of thousands of dollars before the ‘relationship’ suddenly ends, usually without ever meeting in person.
Among the most vulnerable are seniors, adds the local detachment.
The SD&G OPP and its partners at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre have some tips to help avoid becoming a victim of the Romance Scam.
• First, 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.
• 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.
• 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 or to someone you have never personally met should be a red flag.
• Check website addresses carefully. Fraudsters 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. “Recognize, Reject and Report Fraud,” police say.
You can also file a complaint through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or online at https://www.tipsubmit.com/start.htm