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Police warn about romance scams

By Kelli Rickard Feb 12, 2024 | 11:59 AM

Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D.

Beware of romance scams!

As we approach Valentines Day, the RCMP warn that scammers use online dating, social media sites, and texting platforms to gain people’s trust and affection to steal their money.

After developing an online relationship with the victim, the fraudster fakes a scenario where they need fast money.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reports 773 Canadians lost more than $41,700,000 to romance scammers in 2023, with 25% of victims in their 60s.

Between 2021 and 2023, Nova Scotians were scammed out of nearly $1,500,000, with most victims – 22% – in their 20s.

Police say reported cases are likely much lower than actual numbers, since many victims don’t report the crime due to shame and denial.

To help avoid romance scams:
• Don’t give out personal information (e.g., address, date of birth, banking credentials)
• Don’t respond to friend requests or text messages from people you don’t know
• Be suspicious of people who seem too good to be true, always have an excuse for not being able to meet in person, and are always dealing with crises that require money
• Be suspicious of people you’ve never met in person who profess to love you
• Never send money, cryptocurrency or gift cards to someone you’ve never met face-to-face, and be alert to unique investment opportunities
• Be careful who you share pictures with; scammers can use them for blackmail

If you suspect you have been targeted by a scam, contact local police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

If you wish to remain anonymous, call Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers, toll-free, at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), submit a secure web tip at www.crimestoppers.ns.ca, or use the P3 Tips App.