“This is obviously a huge problem,” said Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for the Better Business Bureau for Mainland B.C.
“Weve had many cases here in British Columbia alone where were heard of women in particular … give away over $200,000, all up, before it was actually stopped,” Kelly said.
On Thursday, March 15, BBB encourages you to celebrate National Password Day by scheduling 30 minutes to update your passwords across bank accounts, social networks, email accounts and even point-of-sale (POS) equipment. Select strong passwords that are difficult to guess and vary across your many accounts. Change passwords frequently – experts recommend two to three times a year at minimum – and be sure to never share your passwords with anyone.
His organization named romantic double-dealing as a Top-10 scam last year.
A Maple Ridge man is scheduled to appear in court Monday, accused of faking relationships to steal thousands of dollars from a series of people, and another man was arrested earlier this month on Vancouver Island on similar charges.
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The scammers may start by asking for small amounts of money, but it can quickly add up, he told Stephen Quinn, host of CBCs The Early Edition.
BBB National Password Day runs in conjunction with BBBs National Top 10 Scams and the Competition Bureau of Canadas Fraud Prevention Month – both launched in March.
New Westminster Police have also put out a warning about online dating scams.
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Canadians lost a reported $19 million to romance scammers last year, but that number is just the tip of the iceberg, Kelly said.
“Thats maybe five per cent reporting,” he said. “Especially when it comes to online dating, people are ashamed that theyve been taken advantage of like this and they dont want to be identified.”
The Better Business Bureau recently released a study about romance scams and who is being targeted.
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“It doesnt matter how old you are, it doesnt matter what your sexual orientation or gender is — everybody is a susceptible target when it comes to romance scams,” he said.
How to use the Better Business Bureau scam tracker
Scammers typically come across as extremely eager in the beginning, raining down compliments and asking to meet, Kelly said.
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Theyll quickly move communication away from the dating site, to email or text message, in case their profile is flagged and shut down.
“Then all of a sudden the sob stories are going to happen — theyve been in an accident, they need money for something,” Kelly said. “And theres always going to be a reason why youre not going to meet them.”
He said an estimated one-quarter of online profiles are fake on reputable dating sites and social media networks.
LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- Check twice when looking for to travel to a professional conference, the Acadiana Better Business Bureau said.
Doing a reverse image search online or Googling a name can help verify someones profile.
The organization is warning consumers of con artists cashing in on phony conference scams.
“When it comes to online dating, it comes down to us being able to recognize the fake ones from legitimate ones — that means just doing more homework,” Kelly said.
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With spring break on the horizon, many families are already planning trips to get away. But remember, travel and vacation scams are common, especially this time of year when consumers are planning vacations for school breaks and summer vacation.
Scammers will usually take advantage of consumers by posting listings for vacation properties that either arent for rent, dont exist or are significantly different than pictured.