With more Canadians turning to the Internet to find Mr. or Ms. Right, it’s now more important than ever before to recognize the signs of online dating fraud – read on for tips on how to identify romance scams.

This type of fraud generally works because the scammer works to gain your trust, often waiting weeks or even months before asking for money. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reported that Canadians lost about $17 million last year to these kinds of scams. Even more disheartening is the fact that few actually report they’ve been a victim – according to the Anti-Fraud Centre, only an estimated 1 to 5% tell police what happened, speculating that embarrassment about the situation is often to blame.

What are some of the signs of online dating fraud?

  1. The relationship moves a little too fast. Because this fraud is dependent on the scammer earning your trust, be cautious if you meet someone online and they claim to have fallen in love with you quickly (especially if you’ve never met the person face-to-face).
  2. They ask for money. If the topic of money comes up inappropriately early in the relationship, be careful. Common tactics include the scammer talking about a loved one who needs financial help, or saying that while they want to travel to see you, they lack the funds to do so.
  3.  Their profile picture is a generic image. The profile photo of an online dating site scammer will rarely be an actual image of him or herself. Put the photo in a reverse image search (such as the one from Google) to see where else it appears on the internet.

If you have lost money to a romance scam, report it to your local police and to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

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