Break out the bubbly and the Barry White, it’s st. Valentine’s day.
While some of us have some plans (or are in the doghouse for forgetting to make plans) with that special someone, others are flying solo tonight and maybe turning to the Internet looking for love.
That’s where the South Simcoe Police say best be cautious. Fraudsters are choosing this day of all days to mar your heart and your wallet with a romance scam.
The South Simcoe Police is offering up the following tips to protect yourself year-round:
- Be suspicious when someone you haven’t met in person professes their love to you. Ask yourself – would someone I’ve never met really declare their love after only a few emails?
- Be wary when someone you meet on social media wants to quickly move to a private mode of communication (email, text)
- If trying to set up an in-person meeting, be suspicious if they always have an excuse not to meet
- If you do actually set up a meeting – tell family and friends when and where you’re going and meet in a local, public place
- Do not share personal (birth date, address) or financial information with anyone you’ve only just met online or in person
- Never send intimate photos or video of yourself. The scammer may try to use these to blackmail you into sending money
- Be cautious when conversing with an individual that claims to live close to you but is working overseas
- Never under any circumstance send money for any reason. The scammer will make it seem like an emergency, they may even express distress or anger to make you feel guilty but DO NOT send money
- Should you be asked to accept money (e-transfer, cheque) or goods (usually electronics) for you to transfer/send elsewhere, do not accept to do so. This is usually a form of money laundering which is a criminal offence
If you suspect a loved one may be a victim of a romance scam – based on any above points – explain the concerns and risks to them and help them get out of the situation
Investigate: Do an image search of the admirer to see if their photo has been taken from a stock photo site or someone else’s online profile. Look for inconsistencies in their online profile vs. what they tell you. Watch for poorly written, vague messages, sometimes even addressing you by wrong name –often scammers are working several victims at once. If you have transferred money, stop the transaction if possible
Report it: How should I respond? If you did send money or share financial information, report it to the financial institution used e.g. your bank, Western Union, MoneyGram. Gather all information pertaining to the situation, including the scammer’s profile name, how you made contact, social media screenshots, emails, etc. and contact South Simcoe Police. File a report with the CAFC toll-free at 1-888-495-8501 or online www.antifraudcentre.ca.
Notify the dating website or social media site where you met the scammer. Scammers usually have more than one account. Be proactive, tell family, friends, coworkers and neighbours about your experience to warn them about romance scams.