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Love shouldn’t cost a thing: How to protect yourself from romance scams

These days, we are increasingly reliant on technology and online platforms to connect with people, especially in the romance arena. While the internet has, in some cases, made it easier to find love, it has also opened up new avenues for fraudsters to scam innocent individuals.

Romance scams are a type of financial scam that prey on people looking for love online. This type of scam continues to rise in Canada, with millions of dollars lost every year. In this article, we’ll discuss how to spot a romance scam, how to protect yourself, and what to do if you think you could be a victim.

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What’s a romance scam?

Romance scams are among the most common forms of fraud-related dollar loss, with Canadians losing millions every year. Scammers use the internet, social media and dating apps/sites to create fake profiles, posing as someone they're not to build a relationship online. Once they establish trust with their victim, scammers will ask for money, citing medical emergencies, travel expenses, and investments. If you're looking for love online, be wary of people who request money or financial information.

Fraudsters follow similar behaviour patterns, often professing love early on and using well-rehearsed scripts to gain their victim's trust. Scammers will often claim to live in Canada, but they may be located outside of the country. Be cautious of people claiming to be Canadian citizens but refusing to meet in person or speak on video calls.

How to spot a romance scam

To spot a romance scam, there are a few common red flags to look for.

  • A scammer will usually avoid meeting you in person.
  • Scammers often insist on communicating through private messaging channels outside the dating site or app.
  • Watch out for someone who moves quickly, professing their love for you in a short time. They may also quickly try to move the conversation to email, text or phone calls.
  • Scammers often ask you to share your financial information online, or to lend them money.
  • They may discourage you from discussing them with friends and family


How to protect yourself against romance fraud

Romance scams are prevalent in Canada, and the best way to protect yourself is to be cautious and vigilant when interacting with potential online suitors. Remember, scammers are often charming, easily able to gain the trust of their victims, so keep an eye out for those red flags.

Never give your financial information or send money to someone you haven't met in person, no matter how harmless it may seem, no matter how urgent their request appears to be. Refusing to share financial information online or send money to strangers can prevent you from falling victim to a romance scam.

If you spot a romance scammer, report it immediately. By staying alert and taking action, you can help yourself and others avoid falling victim to these financial scams.

If you yourself fall victim to a romance scam, contact the authorities, including local law enforcement and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. You should also contact your financial institutions to report any fraudulent activity or requests. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to recover any lost money, as scammers often operate outside of Canada.

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The information contained in this article was obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, we cannot guarantee that it is accurate or complete. This material is for informational and educational purposes and it is not intended to provide specific advice including, without limitation, investment, financial, tax or similar matters.