Romance Fraud Growing Quickly


    One of the fastest growing and most devastating fraud schemes in Canada is the romance scam, says the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Anti-Rackets Branch. It has been around for decades. However, with the prominence of the internet and online dating sites, it has opened up a large audience for scammers seeking vulnerable people wanting a relationship. It makes the scammer’s life easier because he or she can direct their efforts at building a friendship right away and not have to worry about finding the potential victim who is seeking a relationship. In 2012, there were 1,460 complaints of romance fraud in Canada. Of those, 1,047 victims were identified and their combined financial losses exceeded $14.8 million – more than any other identified financial loss due to fraud. Almost 70 per cent of all victims were in their 40s and 50s. Single or recently unattached people – often female – are the victims of criminals who initially approach their targets online. Usually this occurs through e-mail blasts, social media platforms, or singles and dating-related ‘meet’ websites. In some cases, prolonged interaction with individuals has cost some victims tens of thousands of dollars before the relationship ends, usually after the culprit gets what they want.