Romance may have been in the air on Valentine’s Day, but RCMP has said that those looking for love online need to protect their wallets as well as their hearts.
The force said that 748 people lost more than $17 million to online dating scams last year, and urges anyone using apps or websites to find dates to be cautious.
RCMP said scammers create fake online profiles in order to gain someone’s trust then ask for money, often claiming to be faced with an emergency.
RCMP also said that there are safety risks with online dating because it’s difficult to verify a person’s identity or motivations before meeting them. They recommend having the first date in a public place and arranging your own transportation so that the other person doesn’t know where you live. They also suggest telling a friend or family member the person’s name and where you’re meeting them as well as when you expect to be back. “Each year, RCMP investigates a wide range of fraud-related complaints, including victims who have been defrauded thousands of dollars from people they met online,” they said in a statement.
“In some cases, relationships develop over an extended period of time resulting in the person manipulating the victim through their emotions. This is when the suspect starts asking for financial help under the guise of a fake emergency,” they added.
“Looking for love online is a personal decision, and an increasingly popular one. If you choose to take your sweetheart search virtual, keep safety top of mind and trust your gut.”