Valentine’s Day sweethearts are reminded to be careful who they meet online after two people were duped out of cash recently in Red Deer.
Red Deer City RCMP have confirmed that two victims in the last six months lost an estimated $40,000. RCMP believe that there are several other victims who may be too embarrassed to report this type of crime to police.
RCMP are dubbing these “Internet romance scams” and are warning people to be careful, particularly when love is in the air on Valentine’s Day.
The victim is contacted by someone online through various social media or a legitimate dating website. An online relationship begins and the scammer entices the victim with pictures, hardships, promises and claims of love.
Eventually the scammer will ask for help, for various reasons, and that involves the victim sending money to the scammer.
After the scammer gets all the money they can from the victim, the scammer drops all communication, leaving the victim dumbfounded, hurt, confused and out of a lot of money, which is rarely recovered.
In 2010, in Canada, there were 911 reported cases of Internet romance scams reported, for a total monetary loss of $6.8 million.
Here are some ways to avoid being a victim of the scam:
• Check website addresses carefully. Scammers often set up fake websites with very similar addresses to legitimate dating websites.
• Never send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust.
• Don’t give out any personal information in an email or when chatting online.
• Make sure you only use legitimate and reputable dating websites.
• Ask yourself: would someone I have never met really declare their love for me after only a few emails or letters?
Anyone who thinks they may be a victim of such a scam or other type of fraud can contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or www.antifraudcenter.ca.
Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or report it online at www.tipsubmit.com. Any information leading to an arrest are eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.