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Fact sheet-Romance scams

What is a romance scam?

A romance scam involves extorting money and valuables as part of a fake romantic and intimate relationship started online by a scammer.


The scammer:

  • Initiates the contact with the victim on social media or dating websites using a fake profile. 
  • Sends a message using a false first name, or supposed official documents containing spelling mistakes.
  • Presents themselves as having a good social status, being prestigious, or charismatic.
  • Suggests continuing discussions using different means of communication, off the dating website using a private or different communication method (email, SMS message, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, etc.).
  • Is travelling or staying abroad, but would like to come and visit you.
  • Finds several good reasons or excuses not to meet by video link or in person.  
  • Mentions after they have established trust that they have exceptional financial problems and requests money: blocked bank account, stolen cell phone or computer, legal troubles, accident, etc.
  • The amounts of money requested are initially modest and gradually increase over time.

In the event of refusal to provide money, threats and intimidation are often used to force the person to pay.

Your resources

  • In the event of a scam, you can contact your neighbourhood police station by calling 514 280-01XX (XX corresponds to the number of the neighbourhood police station). For any emergency, call 911.
  • Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre to report the scam by calling 1 888 495-8501 or go directly to antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.
  • Whether or not you file a complaint with the police, note that you are entitled to obtain the services of the Centre d’aide aux victimes d’actes criminels (CAVAC). Call 514 277-9860, or go to cavac.qc.ca for more information.
  • To file an anonymous and confidential complaint, call Info-Crime Montréal on 514 393-1133.

Prevention tips

  • Stay safe on dating websites or social media
  • Be wary if a person establishes the first contact
  • If in doubt, check with a trusted person about it
  • Check on internet browser the name, a picture, they could be already known for suspect of romance scam
  • Do not transfer money or valuables to a person who you only know online
  • Stay on official platforms for discussions
  • Do not share your bank account details with your romantic partner which may be used to carry out financial transactions