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Police warn of new form of romance scam

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, the OPP is spreading awareness about romance scams.

Provincial police officials say the scam reemerges every year around Valentine’s Day. They explain that in some cases victims are found through dating sites or social media and are asked to connect with the would-be fraudster on a different app or form of communication.

Often, police say, the suspects use real pictures of people or pet photos.

The new variation of the scam, according to police, is that fraudsters are sending random texts to victims like “where are you?” or “where have you been?” as a way to start up a conversation. Once the victim responds, the fraudster attempts to build a relationship with them.

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Officials say to look out for profiles that “seem too perfect,” someone that you have never met before saying they love you, a suspect trying to take the conversation to a more private or different method of communication (like email, text, or a social media), or frequently backing out of meeting up or always having an excuse not to see each other.

How do people get taken advantage of by scam artists? Police say fraudsters use techniques like saying there is a family emergency, claiming they have no access to money and need help, investing in a new business, or needing money to travel home in hopes of coaxing victims to support them.

Police say anyone that has been a victim of a cybercrime should report it to their local police or to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by calling 1-888-495-8501.

With files from Mathew Reisler

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