Surrey police are hoping to help residents avoid romance scams by revealing the most common red fags. (Pixabay)

Surrey police are hoping to help residents avoid romance scams by revealing the most common red fags. (Pixabay)

Surrey RCMP warns of ‘catfishing’ romance scams

Police offer tips to people ahead of Valentine’s Day

Surrey RCMP is warning residents to not be blinded by love this Valentine’s Day, but instead be aware of potential romance scams often found on social media and dating apps.

“There are plenty of fish in the sea and this Valentine’s Day, Surrey RCMP wants to help you avoid getting catfished,” police said in a news release issued Thursday (Feb. 11).

Romance scams, also known as catfishing, involve expressing false romantic intentions towards a victim to gain their trust and affection and then using that trust to obtain money, access to bank accounts or credit cards, police explained.

“Beyond the financial losses, romance scams also have significant emotional and psychological impacts on victims.”

The release warns that romance scams often begin with a connection through social media or an online dating app. The victim is led to believe they are involved in a genuine relationship. The perpetrator grooms the victim, feigns affection, and often provides photographs or identification of the person they purport to be.

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“Once the online relationship is established, they will create fictitious scenarios designed to pull at your heart strings, saying they need money to come see you in person, or care for a sick family member. They may even claim to have personal life challenges that require money to fix.”

Surrey RCMP Cpl. Joanie Sidhu said victims of romance scams are commonly asked to send money to pay for travel, which never happens.

Instead, the fraudster disappears, or makes up an excuse to delay the trip and ask for more money.

Police offered a number of tips to online daters, including: do a reverse Google image search, which is a quick way to see if the person’s photo has been copied from the internet; do not send money; be cautious of people hiding their identity.

“If they seem serious, but strictly want to keep to written communication or phone calls (or, similarly, they frequently discuss meeting in-person but repeatedly have circumstances pop up to prevent them from doing so), there is a good chance they are hiding their identity.”

More anti-fraud tips can be found here: https://bit.ly/3tPx9lb

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