On October 18, 2019, a local resident contacted the Grenville County Ontario Province Police (OPP) to report a Romance Fraud. Following a lengthy and complex investigation, a resident of Etobicoke, was arrested and charged with Fraud Over $5,000.
A secondary investigation was initiated, with the assistance of the OPP’s Anti-Rackets Branch (Ottawa Unit), Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) and Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC). As a result of both investigations, a male, 35 years of age, of Etobicoke was charged under the Criminal Code with;
- Fraud Over $5,000 380(1)(a) CC
- Failure to comply with release order – other than to attend court 145(5)(a) CC
- Transmit Identity Information – 402.2(2) CC
- Identity Theft – obtain or possess another persons’ identity information 402.2(1) CC (15 counts)
- Possess – credit card data 342(3) CC (18 counts)
- Possession of a credit card 342(1)(c) CC (9 counts)
- Possession of an identity document 56.1 CC (6 counts)
The accused was remanded into custody following a court appearance in the Ontario Court of Justice, Brockville.
Since 2021, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) has received 1,355 reports of Romance Fraud from Canadian victims, resulting in $43.1 million in losses.
What is a Romance Fraud?
Fraudsters use every type of dating or social networking site available to contact their victims. Their accounts are created using photos stolen from legitimate people. Their background stories often mimic the victim’s and they are often in the military, work overseas, or are successful business people.
They quickly profess their love to gain their victims’ trust, affection, money and/or cryptocurrencies. This type of fraud relies heavily on victim emotions and may last for months, years, or until the victim has nothing left to give. The fraudsters will always run into trouble and are unable to refund their victims; however, they will continue to make empty promises and ask for more money.
Warning Signs – How to Protect Yourself
- Beware of individuals quickly professing their love for you.
- Beware of individuals who claim to be wealthy, but need to borrow money from you.
- When trying to set up an in-person meeting, be suspicious if they always provide you with reasons to cancel. If you do proceed, meet in a public place and inform someone of the details.
- Never send intimate photos or videos of yourself as they may be used to blackmail you.
- Never send or accept money or cryptocurrencies under any circumstances from unknown individuals. You may, unknowingly, be participating in money laundering which is a criminal offence.
If you believe you have become a victim of fraud, contact your local police service and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 (toll free) or report online at www.antifraudcentre.ca. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or report the incident online at www.ontariocrimestoppers.ca.