Area of Law: Criminal Law
Answer # 1817
Romance / Relationship fraudRegion: Ontario Answer # 1817
What is romance fraud?
Romance fraud, also known as relationship fraud, occurs when the fraudster pretends to be romantically interested in the intended victim. After gaining the victim’s affection, through various lies, expert manipulation, and often exploiting the victim’s vulnerabilities, the fraudster then uses that affection to take the victim’s money.
How does romance fraud occur?
A romance frauster will use various methods to defraud people, including dating websites, social networking websites, or meeting in person. It could happen online, at someone’s place of employment, on vacation, or other group settings, like a gym or a social club. They use fake photos and profiles and share fake details of their lives and intentions.
Common types of romance fraud
1. Internet relationship fraud
Internet relationship fraud occurs when someone poses as someone else online and forms a relationship with the intent to defraud victims out of their money. Often the fraudster will pretend they have various medical or legal expenses that require quick payment. They may even claim they live abroad and can’t meet their victim so the money must be sent to them electronically. Sometimes, they don’t ask for money directly. Instead they may ask for help cashing a cheque, and will forward a counterfeit cheque to the victim asking them to send back cash via a wire service.
In many cases, there is more than one victim involved in the same scam.
2. Escort fraud
Escort scams are a common type of romance fraud that often occurs to lonely and vulnerable victims. The escort fraudster will convince the victim that they are in love with them and want to set up a life with them. They will convince the individual to give them money (often sent by wiring it, or sending it through online means to someone other than the escort) to pay for things like vacations together, joint property, or even a wedding. Once the escort fraudster is satisfied with the amount of money they have received from the victim, they will make up some elaborate reason the relationship must end, even going so far as to have someone ‘close’ to them notify the victim that they have died.
In reality, the escort fraudster may already be married, or scamming the victim to pay for a wedding, vacation or property with someone else, who is also involved in the scam.
3. Workplace romance fraud
Romance fraud can also take place in the workplace. The fraudster will form a relationship, often a romantic one with a co-worker then defraud them of money by asking them to ‘invest’ in a great business deal, when in fact the money is for personal use, such as to cover a gambling addiction, or for any other reason. This type of fraud is usually uncovered because the fraudster and victim work together, and unless the fraudster quits and disappears, the details of the fake investment will be discovered.
4. Vacation romance fraud
Having a holiday fling might in fact be a romance fraud. These frauds take place when a local pretends to have fallen in love with a tourist. The fraudster will compliment the victim, often volunteering to be their tour guide. After spending a considerable time with the victim, the fraudster will profess their love. Once they have obtain the trust of the victim, the fraudster might ask for money or convince the victim to help them obtain immigration status in their country.
If you discover you are a victim of fraud, it is a good idea to contact a fraud recovery expert for advice.
If you have been charged with a fraud, contact a criminal law lawyer.
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