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Canadians lose $50 million to romance scams in 2023: CAFC

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While many looking for love online wind up in successful relationships, Canadians lost more than $50 million last year to scammers posing as potential suitors on dating platforms.

"Who doesn't want love?" said Angela Dennis, President of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving central Ontario.

According to the BBB, a scammer will often profess their love for you quickly, communicate with you daily and, before long, will bring up how they need money.

"They will say they need legal fees, say it's a medical emergency looking for funds from you. It's a red flag, and if you don't know the person, don't send them money," said Dennis.

The con-artist may even nurture an online relationship for months, but will always come up with a reason why they can't meet face to face.

"If you've never met the person and they always have an excuse why they can't meet in person, it's a big red flag," said Dennis.

Often time, these scammers will create a fraudulent profile complete with photos and information catered to fool you.

"They take photos of successful people off the internet and they create a profile, and often they will be in another country where it's difficult for law enforcement to get to," said Francis Syms, Cybersecurity Expert and Humber College Associate Dean.

Syms advises against giving financial or personal information out, because if you try to end a relationship, the scammer may threaten or extort you for money.

"In one case, the scammer turned to threats. He said he had photos of her, he knew where she worked, and he said, 'If you don't take a loan against your house, I'm going to go after you,'" said Syms.

Romance scammers will often have dozens of fake relationships on the go to get as much money as possible. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, 945 Canadians were caught in romance scams, losing $50,348,774. In Ontario alone, victims reported losing $21 million.

"You're not alone. These scammers are good. Report it, and you might prevent someone else from being taken by them," said Dennis.

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