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Police issue warning after local woman caught in romance scam

Police say the woman was taken for over $5,000
20190614 Guelph Police Service KA
Kenneth Armstrong/GuelphToday file photo

Guelph police are reminding the public to be cautious when dealing with people on the Internet, after a local female lost more than $5,000 in a so-called ‘romance scam.’

On Wednesday, a 68-year-old female called police to report the scam. She had been communicating with someone she met on a social media site who claimed he was overseas for work and his bank card had been confiscated. The male asked her to send $5,500, which the female sent via e-transfer. After the male asked for a second much larger amount the female realized she had been scammed and contacted police.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call Constable Dan Urbshas at 519-824-1212, ext. 7240, email him at durbshas@guelphpolice.ca, leave an anonymous message for Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or leave an anonymous tip online at www.csgw.tips.

Signs of a romance scammer:

-          They will tell you everything you want to hear, reading your profile and claiming to like the same things you’ve listed.

-          They will create situations to play on your sympathy, such as a sick loved one or sudden unexpected expenses such as an accident or legal troubles.

-          They want to move to a private mode of communication, thereby gaining your personal contact information such as email or cellphone number.

-          They will find excuses why they cannot meet in person or have a video conversation, often claiming they are working overseas.

-          They will often profess their love after just a few conversations.

Tips:

-          Do not share personal information such as birthdate or financial information with someone you have only met online.

-          Watch for poorly-written or vague messages.

-          Look for inconsistencies between their online profile and what they are telling you.

-          Never send intimate photos. These can be used for extortion.

-          Be cautious when messaging someone who claims to live close to you but is working overseas.

-          Never send money for any reason. The scammer will make it seem like an emergency and claim to be angry or hurt if you do not comply. End the conversation.

-          If you suspect a loved one may be a victim of a romance scam, explain your concerns and help them get out of the situation.