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B.C. RCMP warn of romance-investment scams costing over $16M | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans


Mounties in Richmond, B.C., are warning the public after a significant rise in romance scams and investment schemes in the city, with a loss of more than $16 million last year.

Police said they received 87 reports of romance crimes in 2023, and the trend continues this year with another 12 cases being reported between January and March with nearly $500,000 lost.

RCMP say these long-con scams involve grooming of the victims over weeks or months to nurture the relationship enough to convince them to invest their money in the fraud scheme.

The criminals usually find their victims through dating websites or other social media, and police say they entice them with false promises of profit, and may even show fake returns on initial investments, before their victims are financially ruined.

WATCH | Romance scammers often claim to work overseas: 

What happens when a romance scammer goes after a CBC reporter | Go Public

An online romance scammer tried to catfish CBC Go Public reporter Erica Johnson, who called him out and convinced him to do an interview.

Richmond RCMP spokesman Dennis Hwang said in an interview Tuesday that fraudsters prey on people’s loneliness to build connections and gain trust. 

Sometimes people are picked randomly, but other times, they will be analyzing certain profiles of people on dating sites to see if they might be susceptible, said Hwang, adding that these scammers have been doing their homework on potential victims. 

Money is never mentioned at the beginning. It’s always about building that trust and building the rapport with the victim if they have a lot of things in common,  he added. 

Scammers employ a variety of tactics, he said, such as I used to go to school in that region or I enjoyed that restaurant to befriend potential victims. 

Cryptocurrencies involved

As victims slowly let their guard down and become friendly during conversations, scammers will eventually bring up the idea of investing. 

The criminal might say, ‘Well, look at the money that you allow me to invest. It’s already returned this much profit. Would you like me to give that profit back to you or do you want to reinvest it?’ Hwang said. 

The scams usually involve cryptocurrencies, and police say they believe the actual number of victims may be higher as some might be hesitant to come forward due to embarrassment or fear.

Police say people need to stay cautious and be skeptical of unsolicited contacts, especially from overly attractive profiles or strangers who show romantic interests.

If somebody truly is interested in you, I don’t think that should come up, said Hwang, referring to the romance scammers asking for money following flattering messages.

Speeding ticket scam also prompts warning

The warning from Richmond RCMP also comes after several police detachments, and the British Columbia government, warned people not to fall for a speeding ticket scam after receiving numerous calls from people who had received text messages about speeding in a school zone. 

The Ministry of Finance provided an example of the scam texted to a person’s cellphone that says, our automated speeding system has caught your vehicle doing 46 kilometers per hour in a 30 kilometers per hour zone.

The text then provides the fake website address, saying the person can pay the ticket without a court at that site. 

The B.C. government says the site looks identical to its own PayBC website, which gives residents a secure place to pay their bills, although the website addresses are different. 

It says the site was created by malicious actors to steal personal and financial information.

A spokeswoman for the ministry says the province has never utilized an automated speeding system, and neither the province nor the Insurance Corporation of B.C. sends text messages to people about traffic violation tickets or payment requests. 

The government said people need to be vigilant against such phishing attempts and to make sure they are in the proper pay.gov.bc.ca website address. 

The warning from Richmond RCMP also comes after several police detachments, and the British Columbia government, warned people not to fall for a speeding ticket scam after receiving numerous calls from people who had received text messages about speeding in a school zone. 

The Ministry of Finance provided an example of the scam texted to a person’s cellphone that says, our automated speeding system has caught your vehicle doing 46 kilometers per hour in a 30 kilometers per hour zone.

The text then provides the fake website address, saying the person can pay the ticket without a court at that site. 

The B.C. government says the site looks identical to its own PayBC website, which gives residents a secure place to pay their bills, although the website addresses are different. 

It says the site was created by malicious actors to steal personal and financial information.

A spokeswoman for the ministry says the province has never utilized an automated speeding system, and neither the province nor the Insurance Corporation of B.C. sends text messages to people about traffic violation tickets or payment requests. 

The government said people need to be vigilant against such phishing attempts and to make sure they are in the proper pay.gov.bc.ca website address. 

The Canadian Press



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