Norfolk OPP is urging everyone to familiarize themselves with various scams including the Romance and Dating Scam.

On Friday, police were contacted by a concerned member of the public, reporting that they established an online relationship over the internet with a man after meeting him on a website. The man requested personal and identifying information which could have the potential to be used for identity theft purposes at a later time. Once the information was given, the victim immediately contacted the police after realizing that this was a scam.

Single or recently unattached people – often females – are among the growing number of vulnerable population to be victimized by criminals through fraudulent means. Usually this occurs through contact online via e-mail blasts, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc…) or singles and dating-related ‘meet’ websites.

Among the more prevalent schemes are money transfers via Romance or Dating Scams. 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.

Knowledge is power. All consumers – regardless of age and gender – can take basic steps to better protect themselves from becoming victims of fraud, such as never giving out personal information over the phone, the internet or through social media/dating websites.

It’s not always easy to spot scams, and new ones are invented every day. If you want to stay on top of scams, inform yourself on how to recognize the various types of scams and protect your personal information by visiting law enforcement organizations’ websites, such as OPP.ca, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (www.antifraudcentre.ca) or other reputable organizations.

Always get independent advice – from family members, a trusted friend or advisor — if any offers involve money, personal information, time or commitment. 

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?” 

The OPP and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre partners – the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Competition Bureau of Canada – are sharingtips and links to various resources online to help the public recognize, reject and report fraud on social media by using the hashtags #DontBeAVictim and #OPPtips.

OPP Official YouTube Community Safety Video – Romance Fraud

Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services (video link) – Romance Fraud

The Little Black Book of Scams