As more people use the Internet for dating, scammer/criminals see an opportunity to find their next victim. Romance scammers create elaborate fake profiles, often on social media, and exploit seniors’ loneliness for money, especially during the holidays. In some cases, romance scammers may (or pretend to) be overseas, and request money to pay for visas, medical emergencies, and travel expenses to come visit Canada. These criminals work hard to make sure the fake relationship drags on for a long time. Crime tracking reports that romance scammers get a lot of money from seniors—The government reported in 2019 that seniors lost nearly $84 million to romance scams.
How to you know???
- The person lives either in another country or far away from you, making it hard for you to show up at their door.
- Their profile seems too good to be true
- They ask you for money
- There are always excuses for not being able to visit or meet you.
- They declare their undying love for you after only a few days or weeks.
- They write in poor English
How to protect yourself….
- Check romance scammers’ photos – do a reverse image search on the person’s photo to see if they are a photo taken from someone else’s profile. You can check in on Google Images.. Romance scammers fake their online profiles and use other people’s photos and information.
- Don’t wire money to people that you only know from the internet. Requests for money should be a major red flag. Never send them gift cards as those are untraceable, just like wiring money.
- Never give out your personal information. Avoid sharing phone numbers, addresses, passwords to bank accounts, and other identifying information. Be smart with your personal information to avoid identity theft and other scams.
- If you suspect a romance scam, contact the Edmonton Police Service or the social media network where you met the person online.
- Think before you click on any links – a link is On the Internet, a link is more appropriately referred to as a hyperlink and is what connects web pages to other web pages. What you see here in blue are hyperlinks that will take you to another webpage if you click on them. Not all hyperlinks are safe, but these are.