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  • Love, Labor, Loss – Romance Scam Hit Social Media

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The tremendous power of social media has connected individuals around the globe in unique ways. That’s why it’s all the more concerning that social media has also made one ancient scam very popular – the Romance Trap. While at Ontario Energy Group Consumer Watch we talk about scams that play on our consumer habits, this one is a little more sinister as it plays on our emotional vulnerabilities.

The Romance Trap, or Honeypot Scam, is an old correspondence con that tends towards trapping single people and targets over 1400 people a year in Ontario alone. The thief will pose as someone on social media, often a Canadian or American working abroad in a foreign country, and will make contact over social media channels with a person based on their profile.

And before you assume this just takes place on dating sites: guess again. The majority of Romance Traps actually are done through Facebook, due to the ease of communication. Once contact is made, the scammer will very quickly tell the victim they are deeply in love with them and wish to meet them. Exploiting this emotional connection, they will then begin asking for gifts, proceeding to asking for large amounts of money, ostensibly to “meet up”.

Once the trap has run its course, the mysterious paramour will then vanish and never be seen again. It’s estimated that the average victim can lose as much as $500 to $5,000 as a result. The resulting embarrassment and shame often keeps the victim from making a claim or seeking help. In terms of scams, this may be the most emotionally damaging one out there.

Prevention is as simple as recognizing that this practice is incredibly common. As a rule, you should never wire money, cash checks, or send gifts to someone you don’t personally know or have not met. For individuals who date over the net: get to know the person and form an actual relationship before ever dealing with money. It’s far too easy for these people to misrepresent their identities, give you fake pictures, and vanish when their work is done.

Above all, if you felt you’ve been scammed by a Romance Trap, then take the right steps and report it. Not only do you have the opportunity to bring the perpetrator to justice, you also may be helping countless other Ontario residents avoid being exploited by the same person in the future.

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