INVESTIGATORS from Ontario’s Peel Regional Police Fraud Bureau are alerting members of the public to a popular scam involving online relationship frauds.
 
Officers are warning people who use social networking sites and dating sites that they may be victimized by fraudulent practices.  Fraudsters (scammers) are on these sites, utilizing fake profiles and professing to be successful professionals working overseas. They present themselves as loving and caring individuals, with no family ties or connections, in search of a special someone to connect with.  Upon connecting with an unsuspecting person, the scammer will ask lots of questions in an attempt to befriend them. They will even provide fake photos of themselves, taken from other websites in order to convince the victim they exist and are exactly what the victim is looking for.
 
Once the victim has established an on-line relationship with the scammer, the scammer will start making pleas for financial assistance. These pleas can begin with simple requests such as cashing a cheque on their behalf and forwarding them the money. More intricate requests for money will include, but are not limited to, explanations of political issues in the country where they temporarily reside, causing them to have no access to money. The victim, under the misguided belief that the scammer is financially established, believes they will be reimbursed in the future.
 
Here are some questions to ask yourself if you believe you may be a target of a romance scam:
 
* Does the person you are conversing with seem too good to be true? The soul mate you have always been dreaming of?
 
* Have they professed their love quickly and without meeting you?
 
* Do they claim to be a well-paid professional from the US or Canada working overseas?
 
* Have they asked you for cash or to receive money for them?
 
* Do they promise they will visit soon but then something prevents you meeting?
 
Often persons targeted by this scam are middle-aged, recently divorced or widowed.  Furthermore, victims of this scam very often feel embarrassed and reluctant to report their loss to friends, family or the police.
 
Investigators believe that there are individuals who may have been victimized in this manner.  Anyone who may have been victimized by these types of scams is asked to contact the Fraud Bureau at (905) 453-2121, ext. 3335.  Additionally, anyone who has information on these frauds, and / or the individuals connected to them, is also urged to contact investigators.
 
Information can also be left anonymously by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by visiting their website at www.peelcrimestoppers.ca