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Think twice if Cupid starts asking for money

February 5, 2015, Vancouver, BC – Vancity is warning people to be on the lookout for romance scams in order to protect their hearts and their wallets this Valentine's Day.

Romance scams try to lower people's defences by appealing to their romantic side and playing on emotional triggers to acquire money, gifts or personal information.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has tracked 5,485 romance scam victims with a total of $71 million in losses since 2008. In 2014, the average dollar loss per victim was just over $14,000.

While financial losses often takes centre stage, the emotional impact can be equally devastating. Many victims struggle with broken trust, safety concerns and feelings of shame.

Unfortunately incidents of romance scam are severely underreported. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre estimates that only one to five per cent of victims report their case to the police. This low reporting rate is generally attributed to factors like embarrassment and denial—some victims never even realize they've been scammed.

Romance scams are profitable and predatory. Romance scammers invest a lot of time and go to great lengths to gain the interest and trust of their victims, such as sharing personal information and sending gifts. Once they've established trust, they will ask for money, gifts or banking/credit card details.

The romance scam isn’t necessarily limited to a fraudulent love interest in you—it can extend to family and friends around you. The hallmark of the scam is that is preys on your heart.

Some common romance scam scenarios include:

  • Claiming to be in an emergency situation, like a family illness, and asks you for money.
  • Asking for money to come visit you.
  • Needing to transfer a large amount of money out of their home country and asking you for money to pay an administrative fee or tax needed to free up the money.
  • Sending you a cheque to deposit and wanting you to wire some of the money back to them.

Top tips to protect yourself:

  • Don't send money or give your personal information to anyone you don't know and trust.
  • Think twice before sending money to someone you have only recently met online or haven't met in person.
  • Try to remove the emotion from your decision-making regardless of how caring or persistent the person seems—ask a friend or relative for a second opinion if necessary
  • Don't give credit card or online account details to anyone by email.
  • Be careful about how much personal information you share on social network sites.
  • Avoid any arrangement that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer or international funds transfer.

If you think you've been the victim of a romance scam, contact your financial institution immediately.

Vancity is committed to increasing the financial literacy of its members and others in the community because having the knowledge, skills and confidence to make financial decisions greatly impacts overall well-being.


Catherine Ludgate, manager of community investment at Vancity
“Scammers will do anything to help you part with your money, and romance scammers are particularly insidious because they take advantage of the vulnerability we expose in loving relationships. If it seems too good to be true, it may be a romance scam.”

About Vancity

Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 501,000 member-owners and their communities through 58 branches in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria and Squamish. As Canada’s largest community credit union, Vancity uses its $17.5 billion in assets to help improve the financial well-being of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

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For more information:

Lorraine Wilson | Vancity
T: 778-837-0394


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