Norfolk OPP are advising residents to be vigilant and to familiarize themselves with various types scams after police say one person was duped out of nearly $250,000 over a two-year period.
Police say they became aware of the incident early Tuesday afternoon after being contacted by the victim of the scam.
According to a media release Wednesday, the victim told police they had established an online relationship with a male individual they had met on Facebook in July 2014. After corresponding, “several emails were exchanged developing a friendship,” police said.
“Between July of 2014 and August of 2016, the male requested funds on various occasions after claiming that several emergencies had occurred,” police said. “Approximately $240,000 dollars was forwarded over the course of two-years and police are urging all on-line users to beware of this scam.”
The scam, called a Romance Scam, generated 298 complaints and claimed 216 victims in the province last year who lost $7.9 million, police said.
Police say a growing number of victims in cases where criminals victimize through fraudulent means are single or recently unattached. Police say they are also often female.
The victims are often contacted through email blasts, social media, or singles and dating-related websites, and police say money transfers through Romance or Dating Scams are among the more prevalent schemes.
“In some cases, prolonged interaction with individuals has cost some victims tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars before the relationship ends – usually after the culprit gets what they want without ever meeting in person,” police said. “Among the most vulnerable are seniors.”
Police advise residents to never give out personal information on the phone, the internet, or through social media and dating websites, and to always get independent advice if any offers involve money, personal information, time, or commitment.
To learn more about this and other scams, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre web site at www.antifraudcentre.ca or call 1-888-495-8501.
Provincial Police have provided the following tips to avoid being scammed:
- Check website addresses carefully. Scammers often set up fake websites with very similar addresses to legitimate dating websites. Make sure you only use legitimate and reputable dating websites.
- Never send money, or give credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust. A request to send money to a foreign country (using Western Union or MoneyGram) to this person you have never personally met should be a red flag.
- Don’t give out any personal information in an email or when you are chatting online. Like any scam, use your computer to your advantage. Educate yourself. Check the person’s name, the company name the addresses used, and ask yourself, “Would this be normal?”
- Ask yourself – “Would someone I have never met really declare their love for me after only a few letters or emails?”