March 5, 2021 – Investigators with the York Regional Police Financial Crimes Unit are warning citizens about a new online romance and investment scam after a significant increase in incidents being reported. This new scam is primarily targeting the Chinese community.
Victims in these incidents have lost substantial amounts of money – ranging from thousands of dollars to more than $1 million.
Suspects contact the victims, usually females, through the social media or dating apps. The interaction begins as one of a romantic nature. As the online relationship progresses, the suspect recommends an exciting investment opportunity for the victim to participate in, promising large returns.
The suspects often claim to be, or to work closely with, very knowledgeable and experienced traders or investors. In some cases, the suspect sets up the victim with access a website where they can view what they believe is their account and the funds within it.
Typically, the suspect will continue to encourage victims to invest more money until eventually, they become suspicious. In most cases by that time, the money is gone and recovering it is extremely unlikely.
“Our citizens are reminded that these scams have many variations and suspects go to great lengths to appear legitimate,” said YRP in a press release. “Fraudsters work to build trust with the victims and use a number of psychological techniques to convince a victim to agree to their suggestions.”
Police are encouraging people to be cautious in developing online relationships with strangers and warn not to invest money in something you do not fully understand or with people or businesses that you cannot confirm are legitimate.
“If the situation feels suspicious, trust your instincts and avoid it,” they said. “We encourage citizens to share these fraud prevention tips with friends and family, especially seniors or newcomers to Canada, who are frequent targets of frauds and scams.”