North Bay Police are investigating a report of a romance scam after a local woman lost thousands of dollars to a fraudster. The online fraudster contacted the woman through a dating site, and using her emotions built a connection and an online relationship with her. The fraudster convinced her to send money to him, without ever meeting her in person.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, nearly 700 victims lost more than $14 million to scammers pretending to be in love in 2016. Police say that romance scams can leave victims heartbroken, and ashamed of their financial loss. The fraudsters use fake names, post profile photos of someone else, tell false stories about their lives and play with a victim’s emotions to lure them in. A romance scam victim is often convinced to send funds to the same fraudster multiple times without ever meeting them in person.
Examples of false scenarios include the fraudster being located in a faraway country and needing money for travel to meet the victim. Or the fraudster needs funds for an emergency or an urgency, such as a sick family member. The “rich and successful” fraudster says they need money to pay employees and promises to pay the victim back, or money is needed to secure a large business contract. They might say while travelling, a government seized funds from them and won’t release the money until a fine is paid.
Be wary if someone you meet online contacts you often with frequent displays of affection and early confessions of deep love without ever meeting you. Police say never under any circumstance send money, or banking or credit card information, or online bank account details to anyone you have never met in person and do not know and trust. If you receive a pay cheque or another form of payment from someone you have met online, and they ask you to cash it and send them a portion of the funds police ask you don’t do it. That’s because it’s a counterfeit cheque and you will be responsible to cover any fees from the bank.
If you think you’re a victim of a romance scam, contact your bank immediately and report the fraud to the North Bay Police Service at 705-497-5555.