Internet Dating and Romance Scams

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Canadians lose almost $3.5 million to Love

Almost 400 Canadians complained they were victims of international ripoff schemes involving “romance” last year, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Almost 400 Canadians complained they were victims of international ripoff schemes involving “romance” last year, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Victims reported losing almost $3.5 million, with over a third of the money lost by victims between the ages of 40 and 49. One octogenarian victim reported losing $20,000.

“It’s the kind of scam that’s not reported …,” said Cpl. Louis Robertson of the fraud centre. “The victim can feel ashamed, scared or stupid.”

Robertson said 586 people complained to the fraud centre that they had been approached in a romance scheme, with 390 reporting they lost money.

The corporal said that likely reflects only a tiny portion of actual victims, perhaps as few as five per cent of people swindled by Internet romancers. He said that given the nature of the crime, many feel too embarrassed to come forward.

Durham Regional Police issued a warning recently about online dating scams, saying at least a dozen people reported being scammed so far this year in the region, immediately east of Toronto.

Det. Sgt. George Demytruk of Durham’s major fraud unit said con artists post profiles on legitimate dating websites, and then attempt to romance unsuspecting victims out of thousands of dollars.

The warning describes suspects claiming to be involved in “work-related charity efforts, out of the country,” and requested female victims send money to them in Nigeria.

The victims gave out financial details, discovering money missing from their personal accounts soon afterward.

“These suspects will work people for months,” said Demytruk, describing false romantic relationships that are built with unsuspecting victims. “With the vast majority of them we’re seeing money sent, generally out of the country.”

Demytruk cited a case from a year ago when a male victim who thought he had been talking to a woman lost $45,000 to a suspect, who turned out to be male. The man had been advised of the possibility that he was being scammed, but sent money anyway.

“We need the public to know,” said Demytruk.

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April 16, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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