With Valentine’s day approaching, some lonely souls may be looking for love on their favourite dating site, but beware the number of people caught up in romance scams is growing and police say only a small fraction of the victims report the crime.
Last year, 715 Canadian victims reported losing more than $18 million to romance fraud, according to the Canadian anti-fraud centre, that’s a million dollars more than last year. In the U.S. the FBI says $220 million were lost in relationship scams last year.
Halton fraud detective Mark Underwood says he deals with a romance scam victim at least twice a month. The fraudulent contact usually starts on an online dating site and progresses into a serious relationship. Romance scammers spend weeks, months, even years grooming their victims and siphoning their savings.
Romancescam.com tries to educate online daters about the risks. The site claims to have tracked down real people behind fake profiles and many are part of complex, organized networks in remote countries like Nigeria.
“Despite our best efforts, when the money goes overseas, it’s really hard to claim back for the victim.” Mark Underwood.
He says an equal number of men and women are targetted, but they’re usually between the ages of 39 and 50, old enough to have available funds to transfer overseas.
Read the original story over at CHCH.