As Valentine’s Day approaches, Red Deer RCMP are warning the public to be aware of Internet romance scams. In romance scams, a victim is contacted by someone online through social media or a legitimate dating web site. The victim and the scammer begin an online relationship where the scammer lures the victim with pictures, promises and claims of love. Eventually the scammer will tell tales of hardship and ask the victim to send money to the scammer. After the scammer gets all the money they can from the victim, the scammer drops all communication, leaving the victim dumbfounded, hurt, confused and out a lot of money. In these situations, the money is rarely recovered.
In 2011, Canadians lost over $12 million to Internet romance scammers. This scam has also led to instances of suicide in cases where victims have lost their life savings and been emotionally devastated. RCMP believe the impact of Internet romance scams is even higher than what is reported, as many victims are too embarrassed to report this type of crime to police.
Tips to avoid Internet romance scams:
· Check web site addresses carefully. Scammers often set up fake web sites with very similar addresses to legitimate dating web sites.
· Never send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust.
· Don’t give out any personal information in an email or when chatting online.
· Make sure you only use legitimate and reputable dating web sites.
· Ask yourself, would someone you have never met really declare their love for you after only a few emails or letters?
If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of an Internet romance scam or any other type of fraud contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre 1-888-495-8501 or www.antifraudcentre.ca.
Those wishing to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or report it online at www.tipsubmit.com.