Central Alberta RCMP are warning Albertans to be cautious in their internet interactions, with two reported cases of victims being scammed out of thousands of dollars in the area in the last six months.

According to RCMP, the Internet romance scams occur when a victim is contacted by someone online through social media or legitimate dating websites – and the pair begins an online relationship consisting of the scammer luring the victims with pictures, promises and claims of love.

The scammer makes his or her move when they ask their victim for monetary help for any number of reasons.

Red Deer RCMP said two victims of such scams have been confirmed in that city in the last six months – over both cases a total of $40,000 was lost, after the two victims were convinced to send their scammers money.

In such cases, the scammer then drops all communication with their victim.

Police said in Canada in 2010, 911 cases of such scams were reported – representing a total monetary loss of $6,877,536.97.

RCMP said potential victims can avoid falling into such a trap by taking the following steps:

  • Check website addresses carefully, as fake websites are often set up bearing addresses that are very similar to legitimate websites
  • Never send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust
  • Don’t give out personal information in an e-mail or when chatting online
  • Ensure only legitimate dating or social media websites are used

Anyone who thinks they may have become a victim of such a scheme, or know someone who has, can report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501, or submit a tip to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).