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Not-so-sweet love connection: N.S. RCMP warn public of 'romance scams'


The Nova Scotia RCMP is warning people to be wary of “romance scams” ahead of Valentine’s Day.

According to a Monday news release from the RCMP, fraudsters use fake identities and tailor specific strategies to target their victims by developing online relationships and gaining trust.

“The scammers, who often claim to have a job in a distant location and no access to their existing funds, pretend to have either an emergency or an amazing opportunity,” said Cst. Mitch Thompson in the release. “They then ask their victim for financial assistance.

“Romance scams can be emotionally and financially traumatizing for those who’ve been innocently lured into them. Reported cases of romance fraud are likely to be much lower than the actual numbers. Many victims never report the crime due to shame and denial.”

David Shipley, CEO of Beauceron Security in Fredericton, said fraud is at an all-time high.

"In all online relationships, just slow down," he said. "The moment any kind of financial things are brought up or emergencies or any of those types of things, you have to take a breath."

The release says the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reported 773 Canadians losing more than $41,700,000 to romance scams in 2023; 25 per cent of the victims were between the ages of 60 and 69. Nova Scotians in particular lost more than $1,480,300 to scams between 2021 and 2023, with many of the victims falling in the 20-to-29 age range.

"These are certainly times when people are feeling more emotionally vulnerable and so they are looking for things to feel better and so criminals are usually aware of this and try and market their strategy to identify who these people are," said Mary Ann Campbell, director of the centre of criminal justice studies at the University of New Brunswick.

To avoid such scams, police recommend:

  • not giving out personal information
  • not responding to text messages or friend requests from unknown people
  • never giving money to someone you haven’t met face to face
  • being careful with sharing pictures
  • being suspicious of someone you’ve never met in person saying they love you
  • being suspicious of someone who always has an excuse for not meeting in person

Anyone who suspects a scam is asked to call the Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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