TORONTO-CANADA [December 18, 2019]-As Christmas fast approaches, permit me to use your world-recognized medium to ask Ghanaians both home and abroad to be cautious when searching for that special someone online.
During occasions such as Christmas, Valentine, Easter, and many festive occasions, people try to take the opportunity to search for special someone later to tie the knot with and become married couples from matchmaking sites, dating websites and many more.
Known as "romance scams," so many people have fallen victim to the scam and continue to get defrauded by such criminal activity.
It will surprise Ghanaians that some 760 victims in Canada reported losses of more than $22.5 million to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre in 2017, surpassing all other types of fraud.
Scammers are capitalising on the vulnerability of those looking for love or companionship to extract significant amounts of money from their victims.
The fraudsters typically create enticing profiles on well-known dating websites or social media platforms to lure victims into online relationships.
As the relationship continues over time, the scammers build trust with their victims before asking for money under any number of pretenses. Sadly, the greater the trust gained by the fraudster, the greater the losses suffered by most victims.
Here are a few tips to avoid falling prey to online romance scams:
- Be skeptical when chatting with an individual who claims to live nearby but is currently overseas for work (this can be set-up to ask for money later).
- Be suspicious if they refuse or continuously cancel video chats and in-person meetings.
- Be wary when someone you've never met in person professes their love.
- Scammers may also ask for help covering the cost of an emergency situation, such as a sick family member. Protect yourself by never, under any circumstances, sending money for any reason.
VICTIM OR SUSPECTING FRAUD
If you believe you have been a victim of this scam:
- Contact your bank and place a stop payment on any cheque or money transfer.
- Report it to your local police.
- Don’t answer suspicious calls to your phone with unknown numbers.
- Don’t respond a call by saying “yes” otherwise you give the scammers verbal authority they can use to commit fraud against you.
- Don’t fill forms scammers ask you to fill to open your closed accounts as you may end up filling forms for them to siphon money from your account.
It is my hope and prayer that all media houses, legal councils, the clergy, and the security forces will team up to raise awareness about this sophisticated crime for all to enjoy the peace and joy that the saviour Jesus Christ brings to us on earth this and years ahead of us.
Merry Christmas to all and peace on earth.
STEPHEN A QUAYE,