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How to spot an online romance scam

We live in a world in which online dating is becoming more common.

In their quest to find a romantic partner, many people often fail to recognize the signs that the person at the other end may not be out for their heart but rather their money.

It’s often a good idea to be vigilant when meeting a potential romantic partner and check for warning signs that could that the person at the other end may not have good intentions towards you.

The online romance scam

Most romance scams today are carried out through online dating. A person using a fake identity contacts you and they fit almost every requirement for a partner that you set out in your profile.

When it comes to online scams it’s rare that the victim will meet the person face-to-face and the scammer usually has a great looking photo and profile.

Often the person is willing to invest a lot of time in you in order to build trust and that also makes it harder to say no to the person when they ask you for money.

The person may start talking about money problems early on or the person “works overseas” and they will meet you as soon as they get back. Then something happens and they are unable to come back unless you send them money on an urgent basis. Often they will even instruct you how to send them the required funds either through regular mail or a wire transfer.

What are some warning signs that this may be an online romance scam?

There are quite a few signs that could indicate that you may be the victim of a romance scam:

  • You are asked for money early on in the relationship for any reason;
  • Asks about your and/or your family’s finances and assets;
  • You’ve never met the person but he or she tells you they love you shortly after you started talking;
  • Temporarily “works” in another country (most often Africa, Asia or Eastern Europe);
  • Mentions MoneyGram or Western Union;
  • The person seems to have no online presence and/or Facebook turns up a fake account;
  • Will ask you to help him or her with travel costs or pay some other fees to get them back home;
  • They often talk about a family member or good friend from another country who needs help;
  • No result for the person come up in a name search;
  • You plan to meet but he or she never shows up to any of the meetings.

What can I do if I think I am being, or I have been defrauded?

If you are suspicious of someone that you are having online chats with, do a Google search on them and see if their name, picture and/or profile turns up anywhere else.       

If you think this person is a fraudster stop communicating with them and contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. You should also contact the online dating site on which you met and let them know this is a suspicious profile.

If you have actually given money to the person whom you suspect or know to have defrauded you, you should also contact your local police station.

Whether you think you were targeted in a romance scam or you have already been defrauded you should call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

Read more:

Romance Scams - Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

Online dating most popular fraud target in Canada