MADLY IN LOVE
How a growing number of scammers want to steal your heart — and your money
If the date you met online is asking you to transfer them money, it’s time to see other people.
According to new numbers from the RCMP, 56 Albertans in their jurisdiction were conned out of a total of $3.6 million this year by people they met online, and officials say these scams are on the rise.
“They say that they are infatuated with these people and madly in love when they don’t even know each other, they haven’t even met each other and they are asking for money for a family emergency or that they are having difficulty in their life,” said RCMP Spokesperson Sgt. Jack Poitras.
He said some victims feel embarrassed about falling for an online scheme, but said they’re often conducted by experienced fraudsters.
“They use fictitious names and they have sites that the money gets transferred to and from and it becomes a real challenge for investigators to follow all this money across the country so it’s really tough to get your money back,” Poitras said.
Kathy Macdonald, an Alberta cybersecurity expert, said she has dealt with several of these cases over her 20-year career, including people who gave away thousands of dollars, and one woman who mortgaged her house in order to hand the cash over to a would-be partner.
“They want so much for this relationship to succeed and to work out. They believe this person and they are so highly invested in the relationship,” she said.
She said scammers are experts at using emotion to manipulate people.
“They can be really romantic, seductive, they can be really charming, they may send flowers,” she said. “They will spend as much time as required but at some point in the relationship they will have some sort of hardship, typically it’s a financial hardship and they will ask for money.”
Macdonald points out that as people increasingly turn online to find their next date, more people will be left vulnerable to scams.
“(Online dating) can be very attractive to predators and scammers,” she said.
“They use what we call social engineering techniques ... that they have perfected, and have been able to use through repetition and trial and error.”
The RCMP say there is likely more victims who have not reported the crime, and ask them to contact officials with information.
Tinder nightmares come to life for some as they are scammed out of large sums of money.