Isabelle Lord | Desjardins Group
Michelle, who was recently divorced, met someone on an online dating site. The guy said he lived in Ottawa and frequently travelled out of the country for business. They maintained a virtual relationship for several months.
One day, he asked Michelle to wire him some money to pay his rent on his apartment overseas, since his bank account was frozen. Then, he said he’d been robbed on a business trip and was now entangled in legal difficulties. After all, he said, fraud is rampant in this part of the world.
He needed Michelle to wire him more and more money, and she ended up parting with thousands of dollars—along with her self-esteem.
While the names have been changed, this is a true story.
“This is a classic dating scam,” says Charlaine Mérette, a fraud prevention advisor at Desjardins. Along with the staff at the caisse, she informed Michelle of what was going on.
“She was devastated when we told her she was being used to transfer money to a fraud network in Africa. This is an educated woman with a highly successful career. She never thought something like this could ever happen to her, but her story shows that it can happen to anyone.”
Gradually building trust
Fraudsters are masters in the art of manipulation, and they take the time to gain their victim’s trust. And they’re very good at reassuring their victim, whether male or female, if they express any doubt. And what hurts even more than the financial losses is the feeling of being scammed by someone they thought truly loved them.
5 signs of a dating scam
Here are a just a few signs of a possible dating scam, although there can be more:
- The encounter took place on an online dating site or a networking site
- For any number of reasons, the victim wasn’t able to meet the love interest in person.
- The online paramour lives outside the province, or even overseas.
- An incident occurs: accident, illness of a loved one, travel expenses to meet up, legal difficulties, and so on
- The victim receives requests for increasing amounts of money.
The chances of recovering the lost money are slim. And you have to be careful when hiring lawyers or other private services, because you could lose even more!
“We’ve seen victims being duped a second time by fake overseas firms that pretended to be working to get the money back,” says Mérette.
Reporting the fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
Who you really need to contact is the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. And because the fraud is a crime, victims and their loved ones can get support from the assistance centre for victims of crime in their area.