The number one scam in Canada in 2019 was romance scam, with Canadians losing more than $22 million to it. The numbers for 2019 have not fully been tallied, so the number is likely larger than this.
Even Women Are Victims
When talking about online romance fraud, the common misconception is that it only happens between an older male victim from a richer country and a younger attractive girl from some other part of the world. The truth is that many women fall for romance scam fraudsters too. Michelle Boyer of Ottawa sent more than $3,000 in money transfers over the course of 10 months to a man she met online who used to send her romantic poems. The poems turned out to be from a poetry website.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or CAFC, romance scams currently surpass all other forms of fraud in Canada in terms of money lost. The numbers may look like a lot, but authorities believe that less than 5% of victims talk about getting scammed.
What Are Romance Scams?
Romance scams are when some bad people with false romantic intentions attempt to make someone else trust and confide to them in order to get access to the victim’s money, bank accounts, or credit cards. The fraudsters usually find their victims on online dating sites or social media.
A Huge Emotional Blow
Part of the reason why victims do not file complaints is that they are busy trying to deal with the emotional impact of finding that that someone they have feelings for was a complete fraud. The emotional loss is far more significant than the financial loss in most cases. Some feel ashamed that they’ve fallen for such a scheme and some may simply not know who they can talk to without being judged. They also know that since most of the scammers are based overseas, reporting their loses will not mean that they will be able to get it back.
Quebec and Ontario Beware
More than 66% of romance scam victims are from Quebec and Ontario, with one victim reportedly shelling out more than $72,000. To this day, there are no public data about romance scams or online dating scams so finding out where most of the money gets sent and where the fraudsters are based is not going to be easy.
Prevention is the Key
The only way to fight online dating fraud and romance scams is through prevention via proper education. Warning signs to watch out for include:
- The scammer claiming to be from somewhere nearby but working overseas
- The scammer claiming to be in need of financial help despite having a lucrative business or job
- The scammer wanting to develop a long-distance relationship despite not meeting or only communicating online for a few days or weeks
- The scammer wanting intimate photos or very personal details (which can be used for extorting money later or for identity theft)
Authorities say that there is no harm in using dating sites and talking to strangers online as long as someone is aware of the risks and watches out for red flags. Some romance scammers use the promise of love to turn another person into a money mule for money laundering. Fraud experts say to simply stay away from things that seem too good to be true or quick professions of love from someone online. If you suspect that someone might be scamming you, contact us and let our private investigation services uncover the truth. More than love, you deserve peace of mind. Leave the internet dating investigations to us.