Romance scams continue to cause social distress

An RCMP report on the on-going problem with "romantic" scam artists.

  • Apr. 1, 2015 11:00 a.m.

Have you been involved in a romance scam?

Embarrassing? Yes.

Uncommon? Not at all.

It is a seemingly harmless approach; a brief introduction between strangers, likely initiated via Facebook if an online dating site. Communication begins. Frequency of messaging increases. Conversations are intense. Photos are shared. A relationship forms. And then — requests for money begin.

“I’m desperate.” 

“It’s just this once.”

“I promise. I will pay you back.”

“I love you.”

In reality, these ruses are deliberate, well-crafted money schemes embarked upon by savvy fraudsters in efforts to obtain as much money as possible from unsuspecting, and often lonely, adults.

The careful cultivation of the relationship usually continues for months. Sometimes, the fraudster will reinforce the depth of his/her feelings by sending bouquets of flowers or other token gifts. Often the fraudster will use illness as a ploy, either claiming he/she is sick or has a sick child. The fraudster may claim that medication or surgery is required but he/she lacks sufficient funds to cover the necessary expenses. Those same medical conditions may preclude him/her from traveling.

However, regardless of the despair felt at not being able to travel, reassurances are made that if travel were at all possible the couple would most certainly be together, living happily. Victims, longing for love and emotional connection, become deeply attached to their fraudster and are completely unaware that the fraudster is simultaneously cultivating numerous other “relationships”.

By the time the fraudster claims financial hardship and expresses sheer desperation for money, the innocent target has such a significant emotional investment in the relationship that he or she willingly and eagerly agrees.

Due to the intensity of the ongoing perceived intimacy, and the gradual trust which has been built, the deception may involve several transactions, often totalling upwards of tens of thousands of dollars. In many cases those transactions far exceed the person’s means. Simply put, many victims cannot afford it.

Worse yet, when confronted with reality, the victim often defends the fraudster’s character and refuses to accept that the relationship is an illusion. The embarrassment felt by every victim adds to the fraudster’s ability to deceive others, as victims are extremely reluctant to report their losses to law enforcement.

“Although various dating and romance scams have been around for years, they continue to cause financial and social issues for both women and men,” says Inspector Bruce Ward of RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime. “The RCMP urges you not to send money to anyone you meet through an online forum. If you, or someone you know, have been a victim of such a scam, please contact your local police.”

RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) investigators are reminding the public to be aware of these scams.

For more information, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501, or via email at: bcrcmp@rcmp-grc.gc.ca

Just Posted

Man arrested in Colwood sentenced for trafficking fentanyl

The man was arrested in February and has been sentenced to three years imprisonment

West Shore youth looking to give back this Christmas

Chase Doucette will hand out bags of warm apparel to the homeless

Local leaders of all ages honoured at National Philanthropy Day event

Awards in six categories given to Victoria residents who are leaders in giving back

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Search for contaminant continues at Little Qualicum Cheeseworks

Island company ‘blown away’ by support after E. coli recall of Qualicum Spice cheese

Price makes 36 saves as Habs edge Canucks 3-2

Late goal lifts Montreal past Vancouver

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

B.C. teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

Agassiz high school students say they had the experience of a life time

Don’t sign USMCA until LGBTQ language excised, U.S. lawmakers urge Trump

The trade agreement, forged after 13 months of tense negotiations between Canada and the U.S. is scheduled for Nov. 30

Most Read