As if life isn’t challenging enough if you’ve just gotten out of a relationship, the latest reported scam, financial heartache, targets single people, particularly those who are recently unattached.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, recent data shows that romance scams i.e. financial heartache are among the top grossing scams in the country, with $ 12 million in losses reported by Canadians. What’s more is the deeply sentimental nature of this scam not only causes victims financial hardship, but extreme emotional hardship as well. Additionally, victims are often embarrassed, so are reluctant to report the crimes.
As with many types of fraud, seniors tend to be very vulnerable.
“What’s worse than losing your money? Losing your money and having your heart broken at the same time. That’s all the more reason to be vigilant and protect yourself against fraudsters,” says Jeff Schwartz executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
How the romance scam works
In this latest scam fraudsters target singles through dating sites, social media and in some cases mass email. The nature of the scam differs, but the end result is the same: when the so-called “relationship” ends, the victims are left sad, lonely and sometimes broke by these heartless fraudsters.
The fraudsters take their time with the “relationship” over an extended period of time, as they build up trust with the victim. Trust levels are often related to how much money the fraudster is able to access, because they leverage the emotional and psychological attachment that the victim makes to them.
Often the scam unfolds with the fraudster claiming to be in a faraway country and expresses a wish to meet in person as the relationship develops through correspondence. The fraudster will claim that they don’t have enough money to travel to meet, so the victim sends money for travel expenses.
There is real love to be found out there, but there are some flags that indicate that the object of your affection might not be completely honest. Also, if you notice friends or family in a new relationship exhibiting some of these signs, it may be cause for concern.
If you notice friends or family (particularly seniors) making more trips than usual to the bank, wiring funds when that is out of the ordinary, or talk about someone coming to visit from overseas that they’ve met online or through social media, you should offer assistance and advise your friend or family member to approach with caution.
Protect your heart (and your wallet) against financial heartache with your head
“Never give your personal information- in particular your financial information or your PIN numbers and passwords to anyone. Be wary of anyone who asks for this information,” says Schwartz.
Don’t send funds to a foreign country to come to the aid of someone that you’ve never met. Don’t use websites that you don’t know and trust (scammers set up “dummy” dating websites that look similar to the real site, but have a more sinister intent).