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Police warn residents to be wary of romance scams

In the run-up to Valentine’s Day, police are warning residents to be extra vigilant when entering into a relationship online, paying special attention to potential romance scams.

According to stats collected by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), in 2020, 899 complaints were received related to romance scams, which included 620 victims who lost more than $18.5 million to scammers pretending to be in love.

Romance scam involves an individual with false romantic intentions toward a victim in order to gain their trust and affection for the purpose of obtaining the victim’s money or access to their bank accounts or credit cards. Scammers steal photos and use dating sites and social media to lure potential victims into sending money for various reasons.

The scammer will gain the trust of the victim through displays of affection and will communicate via phone, Skype and email for months, if necessary to build trust, police warn.

The scammer usually requests money to visit the victim, usually to pay for a visa and airfare, but then suddenly runs into other unexpected difficulties. The closer the date appears to be getting to the victim, more unexpected events occur and more money is requested by the scammer to cover the costs. 

Scammer’s may also claim that there is a medical emergency with a sick family member. They will then ask for money to cover the medical expenses.

The scammer could tell you about a large amount of money or gold they need to transfer out of their country, and offer you a share of it. They will tell you they need your money to cover administrative fees or taxes. 

The scammer will play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money.

How to protect yourself:

  • Be suspicious when someone you have never met in person professes their love to you.
  • If trying to set up an in-person meeting, be suspicious if they always have an excuse not to meet.
  • Do not share personal or financial information with anyone you have just met online or in person.
  • Be cautious when conversing with an individual that claims to live close to you but is working overseas.
  • Never under any circumstance send money for any reason.
  • If you have transferred money, stop the transaction if possible.

FEBRUARY 3

5:34 PM | Waterloo Regional Police received a report of a theft from vehicle parked on Geddes Street in Wellesley. Sometime between February 1at 11 p.m. and February 2 at 5:30 a.m., unknown suspect(s) entered a vehicle, stealing personal property, including tools. The investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact police at 519-570-9777 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

FEBRUARY 4

12:23 PM | A 38-year-old Maryhill man was charged in relation to a child pornography investigation. Waterloo Regional Police announced this afternoon that they had carried out a search warrant at a Maryhill residence as part of an investigation launched in October by the Internet Child Exploitation Unit.  The suspect was charged with two counts of ‘possession of child pornography’ and ‘make child pornography available.’

FEBRUARY 5

11:23 AM | Police responded to the area of Listowel Road and Arthur Street South in Elmira for two separate collisions involving a total of six vehicles. All vehicles were heading east on Listowel Road when white-out conditions developed that are considered factors in the collisions. After a box truck lost control and spun out on the road, a pickup stopped behind it, but it was struck from behind by an SUV. One driver was taken to hospital with minor injuries. The chain of events caused the second the bumper-to-bumper collision involving three vehicles. The vehicles involved in the second collision sustained minor damages, with the drivers directed to the police collision reporting centre.

FEBRUARY 7

3:00 PM | Emergency crews responded to a fatal collision on Speedvale Avenue east of Guelph  in the Township of Guelph-Eramosa. A 40-year-old Guelph man was a passenger in vehicle travelling eastbound on Speedvale Avenue when it left the roadway, rolled over, and collided with a tree. Two other occupants were transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The Wellington County OPP is asking anyone that may have witnessed this collision to please call police at 1-888-310-1122

6:35 PM | Waterloo Regional Police responded to Nafziger Road in Wilmot Township for a single-vehicle collision after a driver lost control due to poor road conditions and struck a sign. No one was injured, and no charges were laid.

FEBRUARY 8

10:31 AM | Police responded to an Arthur Street North address in Elmira for a theft report. An unknown male entered the business and allegedly concealed merchandise and left the store without paying. He was last fleeing the area on a bicycle. The suspect has been described as a white male in his late 20s, approximately 5’7” tall, wearing a blue winter jacket. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact police at 519-570-9777 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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