Canadians Lost Almost $14 Million to Romance Scams in 2014

15 March 2015

With the rise of dating sites has come an astronomical increase in romance scams, where fraudsters pretend to be looking for love online only to ask their victims for personal information, credit card numbers and money. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), Canadians lost nearly $14 million to these scams last year. The CAFC is also quick to note that this number may be significantly smaller than the actual figure, since victims of romance scams are often too embarrassed to report them to authorities.

An anonymous Toronto woman spoke to Global News Canada about her experience with an online romance scammer. She met a man on a dating website who claimed to be a widower whose wife died of cancer. He said he was working in the oil business in South Africa and was having problems accessing his Canadian credit cards, so the woman gave him her credit card number.

The man said he was coming to visit her, but the day before he was supposed to show up, she got a call from someone saying he had been in a car accident and asking for money, causing her to realize she was being scammed. All told, she lost about $10,000 to the scheme.

If you’re active on online dating sites, make sure never to give your financial or personal information to anyone until you have met them in person and verified their identity. Look for red flags like expressing sudden strong feelings, claiming to be from Canada but traveling abroad, and of course, asking for money in any form.

Romance scams can lead to identity theft and credit fraud. To protect yourself, consider signing up for a credit monitoring service.