Fraudsters continue to scam people into sending them money through romance scams. The people behind these types of scams can be very convincing, and it can be easy to mistake them for a legitimate love interest. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, these scams have cost Canadians more than $90 million since 2012. Check out our top 5 red flags for romance scams and stay wise to the fraudsters behind them.
Dating and romance scams usually take place through online dating websites. Scammers have also been known to use social media for the same purpose. You may find yourself in communication with someone who appears to be pursuing a romantic relationship with you, but soon you may begin to notice some of these red flags. Here is what you should watch out for:
Seems too good to be true.
The scammer might have a few glamorous pictures of themselves and may paint a picture of a glitzy lifestyle or career. If you’re suspicious, you may be interested in visiting a website that offers instructions on how to identify fake/stolen pictures.
Relentless messaging with vague or irrelevant information on a lesser-known dating site.
According to the Little Black Book of Scams, some dating and romance scams operate using illegitimate dating websites that charge you for each message sent or received. The scammer will try to keep the conversation flowing to receive more money from the barrage of messages being exchanged. Try to use legitimate and reputable dating websites to avoid this type of scam.
The relationship is moving very fast.
The scammer is working hard to develop trust, and in doing so is trying their best to convince you that they are head-over-heels in love. Be wary of someone that is expressing strong feelings very early on and, as flattering as it may be, keep a cool head and trust your gut. It’s also worth mentioning that some romance scammers are in it for the long game and will attempt to gain trust for months. They may even send flowers or small gifts and may work the angle of a friendship-type relationship.
They have excuse after excuse to not meet in person or video chat.
This could mean they are using a fake picture and are not who they say they are.
They ask for money.
This is the ultimate red flag. These scammers will use creative tactics to convince you to send them money. Sometimes they will claim that a loved one is very ill and needs money to pay for medical bills, or phone bills (to continue chatting with you), or travel expenses to come see you (if they claim to live far away). Never send money or give away your personal or financial information to someone you have never met.
While Consumer Protection BC is responsible for regulating certain industries and oversees specific consumer protection laws in the province, we do not have any authority when it comes to scams or fraud. If you have lost money to a romance scam, report it to your local police and to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
About Consumer Protection BC
We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.
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22 thoughts on “The top 5 red flags of romance scams”
I was lucky and did not make this mistake with a man I met online. But I wonder, who are these men and where do they live. Is there any way to prosecute them
Jacqueline, thank you for your comment and I’m glad to hear you stayed clear of this scam! If you’re curious, you may want to contact your local police or RCMP but it’s our understanding that they are often located abroad and hard to catch.
Too funny! My ex-friend lives in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada and I believe she is currently being victimized by a romance scammer claiming to be a retired RCMP officer. He found her online and immediately started in with the scam. His supposed photos have been redacted and there is no record of where he lives. His victims go to his “house’ hundreds of kilometers every weekend and she leaves her cell phone at home. She is a widow.
In the event of an incident, no one will be able to contact her and no one knows where she is at any given time. We suspect that she will not notify anyone because of her pride. I have tried to tell her about this but she just doesn’t want to hear it. My first impression was that he was just a control freak and she said I’m not worried – I know all the signs – I didn’t realize she was such a dumbass.
You need to report to RCMP! He’s not only trying to prey on Vulnerability, but he’s so stupid as to go as far as Impersonating a Police Officer! Even a Retired Official is still considered an Offence!!!!
Hi Kathy, your comment seems to have gotten cut off. Did you want to leave a reply in response to Jacqueline’s comment?
Thy are usually from Nigeria. They do this for a living and only getting a very small protective of what they collect. It is affecting their mental health to. Sometimes if they want to stop this type of work they need therapy. I met 2 on line. Revers image their photo. I always asked questions like. What is the name of this bridge or something local, only people know who lives here. Be smart.
i am always happy when i see articles like this . i too was scammed of about $240,000 and was able to get back about $160,000 .I am happy to point you to the man that helped me, I meet him in a tech summit and he did his magic.he also gets refunds in binary options scams(bee options) , forex trade scams.
Who got your money back for you please? Point me in right direction
How did you get any money back?
In your first numbered comment you say……
“Seems too good to be true.
The scammer might have a few glamorous pictures of themselves and may paint a picture of a glitzy lifestyle or career. If you’re suspicious, you may be interested in visiting a website that offers instructions on how to identify fake/stolen pictures.”
IF you are being helpful… why not provide the website to us?
I have never heard of such a site. Google maybe?
And the person who got scammed out of $240,000 should be embarrassed to admit it in this day and age. What were you thinking????? Or desperate for love???
Hi Annie, thanks for your question. As a regulator of some business sectors in BC, we wouldn’t be able to recommend certain websites or apps but a quick search on the Internet under “identify stolen pictures” would give you some options. We also don’t pass judgement on people who have been taken advantage of by scammers. The people behind these scams can be very convincing and they are in it for the long game and will even target widows or the elderly. Thanks for your questions, please let me know if anything was unclear.
Love how you make the victim responsible for the crime. And – Isn’t honesty better? I think it is brave to speak up when some people are going to respond the way you did. Sometimes people are innocent and naive and not aware of scams. It is of paramount importance, I would think, for those who have been there to share the experience so others don’t get caught. Of course shaming is really going to help people speak up. I appreciate the clarity of the article in pursuit of risk reduction.
Many westerners are extremely naive about what goes on in the predatory world
I have just realized I am being scammed by one of the rings. I don’t know where to turn or what to do.
He has my identity and address.
RCMP basically said nothing they can do and discouraged me from making statement as no one would follow up.
Told me to be careful out there
Offered no resource
Offered no compassion
It was old hat to her – first contact person at rcmp in Kelowna today.
I’m afraid to cease communication for fear of retaliation.
Classic- charming, engineer, on a rig, equipment broken, needs help transferring and raising money.
Clever, exhausting emails and texts designed to keep me occupied and pouring over his words.
I’m lonely – I fell.
Grateful I was deceived in emotion only. Two weeks of remarkable romance.
I didn’t send money but sent info about me.
So now what.
I have all the messages and we are still in touch- but with me awake now.
Hi Gail, thanks for reaching out to us here and taking the time to explain your situation. I’m sorry that happened to you. This is not an area we have any legal authority over but I’m happy to provide you with some suggestions. I think that if you are concerned about your safety or about your personal information, I would suggest going back to the police to explain that to them again. In addition to the police, I would suggest contacting the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to see if they can answer some questions regarding the personal information you shared with this individual. Here’s a link to their website and contact info: https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/contact-the-opc/contact-the-information-centre/. I hope this is helpful to you and best of luck getting the information you need.
Nothing will happen to you. Cut all comunication with him.
I can not believe that after so many years of information to people about this on TV and on line you still fall for something like this. You lonely go to a public place smile at people. Have fun. Don’t let yourself get played.
There are scammers out in the real world too!
Going to public places like beaches and parks.
Only takes a few minutes and one of them sits themselves down next to me without an invitation! Forget about smiling!
That would make the situation much worse. They act like they are doing small talk and if I politely and briefly as possible reply they ask for money for ” giving me company by talking to me”.
I’m at the point where I don’t go out to public places alone.
Which means almost never going since I have no one who wants to go with me.
When we have had our heart broken and feel lonely, it’s easy to fall prey to romance scammers. A warning sign is when they won’t video chat. Needless to say, all communications should stop and the scammer should be blocked the very second money is mentioned. I reported some to a reliable dating site when the phone number didn’t match the locale and the information they gave didn’t match what I knew. They claimed to be widowed (wife had cancer) and they were very proud of a foundation they claimed to have established for animals