Surrey RCMP is cautioning the public after victims lose more than a million dollars to romance scams this year.

Surrey RCMP received reports from 29 people who have been the victim of online romance scams between January and August 2021, with a total of $1,362,269.00 lost. During the same period, 213 victims lost $22,463,510.00 throughout the Lower Mainland.

A romance scam involves any individual who uses false romantic intentions toward a victim in order to gain their trust and affection for the purpose of obtaining the victim’s money. Many romance scams begin via social media or online dating sites.

Many of the reports in Surrey included a common trend; victims were befriended online and over time convinced to invest funds into fraudulent schemes, which included sending money via bitcoin accounts. When the victim becomes aware of the fraud, communication with the victim was cut off.

More people than ever are going online to find friendships and relationships. If you seek companionship on the web, here are a few tips that may help protect you from being conned out of your money.

Google them!
Do a reverse image Google search – a quick and easy way to see if their photo has been copied from the internet.

Do not send money!
If your new online partner is already asking you for money to get their car fixed so they can come visit you, it’s a red flag.

Beware of people who fall in love quickly
If within the first few exchanges, the person seems to be pushing the relationship forward at a rapid pace without having even met you, it is a sign of catfishing.

Be cautious of people hiding their identity
If they seem serious, but strictly want to keep to written communication or phone calls (or, similarly, they frequently discuss meeting in-person but repeatedly have circumstances pop up to prevent them from doing so), there is a good chance they are hiding their identity.

More information on romance scams and how to protect yourself can be found on the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website. More anti-fraud tips are also available for you and your loved ones on our Surrey RCMP website.

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