Online dating has made it easier for scammers to target those looking for love. (Mayberry Health and Home photo)

Love is in the air, but beware of scammers this Valentine’s Day

The Better Business Bureau says romance scams caused $1 billion in losses in Canada and the U.S.

Thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever for con artists to target those looking for love on Valentine’s Day.

The Better Business Bureau is offering tips so your quest for romance doesn’t blind you to the realities of scams.

READ MORE: RCMP find Internet fraudster targeting women in Metro Vancouver

Romance scams were behind more than $1 billion in losses in Canada and the U.S. between 2015 and 2018, the bureau said.

The most common form of deception is catfishing, which is when scammers create compelling back stories, along with full-fledged identities, and trick someone into falling for that fake person. Along the way, the catfisher steals personal details like credit card information or dupes the victim out of money.

In some cases, the scammer goes so far as to convince their “significant other” to unknowingly transfer money connected to prior scams from account to account.

The BBB said most scams start with fake profiles on online dating sites that use stolen photos and biographies from real accounts or elsewhere. The scammer often claims they cannot meet in person because they are in the military or work overseas.

READ MORE: Man charged after two men defrauded on dating app Grindr

After messaging back and forth for some time – even talking on the phone or through a webcam – the scammer will say they need money to help fix a health issue or a family emergency, or say they want to plan a visit.

Sometimes, the requests for more and more money continue for a period of time. Other times, the scammer disappears once the money is transferred to their account.

Tips to spot the scam

Too hot to be true: Scammers use good-looking photos and tales of financial success. Be honest with yourself about who would be genuinely interested. If they seem “too perfect,” your alarm bells should ring. Ask specific questions about details given in a profile. A scammer may stumble over remembering details or making a story fit.

In a hurry to get off the site: Catfishers will try very quickly to get you to move to email, Facebook messenger, or phone.

Moving fast: A catfisher will begin speaking of a future together and tell you they love you quickly. They often say they’ve never felt this way before.

Talk about trust: Catfishers will start manipulating you with talk about trust and how important it is. This will often be a first step to asking you for money.

Don’t want to meet: Be wary of someone who always has an excuse to postpone meeting, saying they are traveling or live overseas or are in the military.

Suspect language: If the person claims to be from your hometown but has poor spelling or grammar, uses overly flowery language, or uses phrases that don’t make sense, that’s a red flag.

Banking numbers: Never send money or personal information that can be used for identity theft to someone you’ve never met in person. Never give someone your credit card information to book a ticket to visit you. Cut off contact if someone starts asking you for information like credit card, bank, or government ID numbers.

Do your research: Many scammers steal photos from the web to use in their profiles. You can do a reverse image lookup using a website like tineye.com or images.google.com to see if the photos on a profile are stolen. You can also search online for a profile name, email, or phone number to see what adds up and what doesn’t.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Electrical appliance failure likely caused apartment fire that killed one Saanich resident

Large parts of the Richmond Road apartment building remain uninhabitable following June 21 fire

Artificial reef created off East Sooke

Divers are discovering plenty of new sea life

Vaping a growing problem in Sooke School District

Island’s chief medical officer raises the alarm

UPDATED: Wanted man facing sex-related charges arrested by Sidney North Saanich RCMP

West Shore RCMP asked for the public’s help locating Richard Tom, 32, earlier this month

Canadians smoke less according to community health survey

Obesity and heavy drinking rates remain steady

VIDEO: Stop-motion artist recreates Kawhi Leonard’s famous buzzer-beater

It took Jared Jacobs about 40 hours to make the video, on top of the research

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you think the penalty should be increased for tossing a burning cigarette from a vehicle?

With grasslands and forests around Vancouver Island and across B.C. reaching tinder… Continue reading

Rock slide in B.C. river may hinder salmon passage

DFO says it is aware that the slide occurred in a narrow portion of the Fraser River

Four-hour tarmac delay violates charter rights of Canadians with a disability: lawsuit

Bob Brown says new rules reduce the distance he can travel by air without putting his health at risk

UPDATE: Shrapnel narrowly missed firefighters in ‘suspicious’ North Island house fire

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Most Read