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

Fuller Lake skaters impressive at Island regionals

Dawe overcomes injury for two high placings in interpretive, freeskate

Unplowed Roads parody song destined to be a classic

Move over Weird Al, Island elementary students on the same level

Vancouver measles outbreak prompts vaccine vigilance on Island

No cases here yet, but Island health authorities push measles vaccinations - and not just for kids

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Chemainus Rotarians help build a better life for Guatemalans

Houses, stoves and shoes the primary commodities supplied for the locals by volunteers

‘Riya was a dreamer’: Mother of slain 11-year-old Ontario girl heartbroken

Her father, Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, was arrested some 130 kilometres away

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Man injured in police shooting near Nelson has died: B.C. police watchdog

The death follows an incident in Bonnington on Feb. 13

Experts urge caution after 10 human-triggered avalanches across B.C.

One man is still stuck after avalanche on south coast

‘It consumed my life’: Inside the world of gaming addiction

World Health Organization classifies gaming disorder as a mental health condition

Police seize bottles of grapefruit vodka from wanted man’s snow-pants

The men were pushing two shopping carts with a woman inside

Tonight’s sporting event costs more than the Super Bowl, and Obama is going

Tickets are going for more than $4,000 to watch the Duke - North Carolina basketball game

CRTC report finds ‘misleading, aggressive’ sales tactics used by telecom industry

Report recommends measures to make a fairer situation for consumers

Most Read