Scam artists leave broken hearts and empty wallets

You’ve met the person of your dreams. Or so you think.

Figures compiled by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre show Nova Scotians lost more than $140,000 in so-called romance scams last year. And those losses are spread over only 10 victims.

It is the most costly type of scam to target Nova Scotians. To mark March as Fraud Prevention Month, Nova Scotia RCMP have released figures for the top five scams.

1) Romance scams

Typically, the victim enters an online relationship with someone and that relationship quickly escalates. Before long, the scammer is looking for money, often to enable the two parties to meet. Those meetings seldom take place and the “relationship” ends when the victim is unwilling or unable to keep sending money.

2) Extortion scams

While romance is at the very top of the heap in terms of money, extortionists targeted 28 victims in Nova Scotia in 2018, making off with more than $72,000. Extortion scams usually involve urgent requests for money. For instance, the scam artist will pose as a family member who has been arrested or suffered some other emergency.

3) Merchandise-selling scams

Merchandise scams are where fake or imitation merchandise is sold at inflated prices. In Nova Scotia, this scam netted 32 victims and more than $30,000 in losses.

4) Merchandise-buying scams

For the fourth biggest scam, the roles are reversed: Instead of selling bogus merchandise, the scammers pose as online buyers and try to trick victims out of their merchandise or money. These scams affected 30 victims and cost more than $18,000.

5) Service scams

The Number 5 scam in Nova Scotia for 2018 had the most victims, but they lost the least amount of money. Some 35 people lost nearly $18,000 in what’s called service scams.

That’s where the target gets a call from someone posing as a computer expert offering to remove a virus or otherwise improve the victim’s computer. The victim then pays for a service that was never needed.

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