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OPP Warning About Romance Scams

Valentine’s Day is all about romance, but you may not feel the love if you are the victim of a romance scam.

The Ontario Provincial Police in Essex County and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre are once again reminding the public to be careful looking for your perfect match online.

Last year, victims lost more than $17-million to scammers pretending to be in love.

Police say it is a romance scam anytime someone feigns romantic intentions to gain a victim’s trust so they can empty their bank account. In some cases, the perpetrators have even attempted to get their victim to commit fraud on their behalf.

So, what can you do to protect yourself?

Police say it does not hurt to be suspicious of anyone professing their love that you have not met in person. Be wary anytime someone you meet on social media wants to move to a more private mode of communication like text or email. A person who will not meet you in person likely cannot be trusted.

Never send personal information like your birthdate, address, or financial information with anyone you have just met online or in person. Remember, intimate photos or videos can be used to blackmail you.

It is also unwise to send money. The scammer may make it sound like it is an emergency, and may even get angry if you do not comply, but investigators say that is a common way to launder money.

A tip-off that someone may be trying to scam you is inconsistencies between what they tell you and what they post online, vague messages, and the use of a stock photo in their profile.

If you have sent money or shared financial information, call your bank and police right away. Take screenshots of the scammer’s profile, log how you made contact, and file a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online, or by calling 1-888-495-8501.