Beware the romance scam

By Dianne Ojar-Ali
Author, Mrs Fraud and You

Do you know that Romance and Dating Scams are on the rise? Did you know that in over four years, Canadians have reported losses of approximately $50 million? Do you also know that from 2010 to 2013 the number of victims has doubled, and that is only stats from the “Victims” who have chosen to report it? Did you know that technology has made it so much simpler for the “Scammers” to pick their targets?
Remember the old days when someone would actually have to ask you out and romance you, say nice things to you and flatter you? You may even get a dinner out of it and have butterflies in your stomach. Yeah, the good old days we were in “LOVE”. Then one day love goes south and boom they hit you for money, get aggressive, abusive and angry. The lack of Love is heartbreaking and because we believe in love and we are hungry for it we become vulnerable so we give in. How many of us have reported it? How many of us live with the shame and guilt of losing our nest eggs? I am not here to point fingers or judge anyone, I am here for all women, men and youth to warn you to have your guard up and beware because we are all possible victims.
Scammers “try” to get you to let down your guard by appealing to your compassionate and romantic side, you know the fuzzy side. They prey on us the ones who are vulnerable surfing the internet. They play with your emotional triggers to get you to open up and willingly pour out your personal information. They then can hit you with the request for money and/or gifts. This is their pay day because they have won your complete trust. In other words they have won your heart and you are now in Love!
The “Scammers” will set up legitimate internet dating and social media sites and create “fake” profiles. Have you ever received a request with a male or even female to become their friend? They usually will claim that they live out of town or the country. Here is an example of a friend request from “Donald” I received: “What a lovely smile from a pretty lady. just saw your profile while searching for a friend. you look nice. i will love to know more about you if you don’t mind. Cheers Donald”. I recently had a friend request from a man with pictures taken in a military plane with a huge teddy bear from Afghanistan. I do not think that the bear and my husband could fit on the bed. It was really big. Really, do you think that I would fall for that?
The red flags? Here are a few: They will ask you to contact them directly via email and they are typically very vague, very poor language as in my example. They will go to the extreme by copy and paste public information and it just is wrong.
Scammers will go to earth’s end to gain your trust. Within weeks or months, it can seem to you that you’ve known this person all your life, and you could find yourself in love with them. They play on that and lead you on, saying they will visit and have booked their flights. But remember, they aren’t coming anywhere. It’s all a game.
In most scenarios, they will suddenly claim that they are in a financial bind, lost their job and even sick or maybe a family member is dying. There was one gentleman who claimed that he was a contractor and the equipment that he needed for a major project (oil drilling) broke down and he needed to have it repaired. He wanted a large sum of money and then the amount got smaller and smaller. He then became very aggressive and angry.
The Scammer will ask you to maybe wire transfer funds, this is a Global Money Laundering Operation which is a criminal offence. You can also be contacted by people pretending to be professionals claiming that they are representing the Scammer — for example doctors, lawyers and maybe even bankers. Run as far away as you can and as fast as you can! Report it to the local authorities and keep all correspondence which can be used in the future.
As far as the photos they sent you go, they might be dreamy and amazing but it is very likely it isn’t your dream person. And for certain, if they’re scamming you, they probably have dozens of other people around the world “in love’ with them too.
I urge you to be cautious and do not let your guard down, and listen to your gut because it will never steer you wrong. If you or someone you know is or was a Victim of Romance or any scam you can contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and they will forward it to the authorities. You can also become the victor by reporting it and make a difference.
If you would like to share your story of Fraud or Identity Theft in “Mrs. Fraud’s Heroes ~ We Survived the Nightmares”, you can contact me at . Don’t let anyone take your hard-earned money from you. Be safe and protect yourself at all cost!