Valentine’s Day 2024: Protect Your Heart and Your Wallet

Love is in the wintery air across the mostly frozen Canadian countryside this Valentine's Day. But this time of year is a reminder that interlaced with the romance of St. Valentine is the pervasive threat of romance scams. At MyBTC.ca, we celebrate love in all its forms. With that said, we remain fully aware of the dangers posed by fraudsters who seek to exploit the vulnerability of those seeking companionship, especially on the most romantic day of the year.

With an oath to uphold the safety and security of our users in Canada — we go above and beyond facilitating cryptocurrency transactions. We stand as your guardians against the scourge of romance scams which provides a shield of protection for Canadian traders. In this season of love. MyBTC.ca reaffirms its dedication to our clients’ trust in the face of evolving schemes and tactics, which helps users across Canada to embrace the cryptocurrency space with super-confidence and peace of mind. Let’s go over how to keep you and your loved ones safe this Valentine’s day.

In the infinite expanse of cyberspace creeps an omnipresent enemy that preys upon the vulnerabilities of the lonely hearts behind the screen. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, these insidious schemes that fall into the Romance Scam category, extracted a staggering tally of over $50.3 million from unsuspecting Canadians in 2023 alone. As Valentine’s Day approaches, it is imperative to arm ourselves with knowledge and awareness to detect and combat these treacherous online actors.

The Anatomy of Romance Scams

Romance scams act as a form of seduction within the digital realm and unfold like a carefully scripted drama. Initiated via social media platforms, dating sites or other corners of the world wide web, these scammers feed off their hosts by crafting intricate facades designed to captivate and set the hook on unwitting victims. The fraudster artfully casts a net of intimacy — often leveraging digital platforms or modes of communication to create a narrative of affection and devotion

As the relationship progresses, the scammer orchestrates a delicate and deceptive dance of affection whilst manipulating emotions to gain the mark’s trust in stride with their dependency on the comfort received. The online actors on the other end of the keyboard weave tales of love and longing and punctuate the narrative with relentless care. Through carefully crafted and curated messages, the scammers lull their victims’ into a false sense of security — which lays the groundwork for exploitation.

Each scammer’s end game is financial gain and they won’t cut corners in social-engineering scenarios designed to extract funds from their acquired targets. Be it from calculated “emergencies” or make-believe stories of reunion with family, they manipulate victims’ emotions in order to get paid via monetary assistance under the disguise of ‘real’ affection. As the numbers indicate, many on the receiving end may willingly part with their savings in an attempt to continue the ‘idea’ of the relationship, not being able to see through the obscured lens of the mirage before them.

Detecting the Warning Signs

In the labyrinthine catacombs of online romance scams, vigilance is Canada’s most potent weapon. By making ourselves familiar with the warning signs we can strengthen our defenses against being exploited by this force of online nature.

It’s good to start by being aware of relationships that have a hurry-up offense and unnatural pace — where the new online ‘friend’ begins to profess love, commitment and moves the ball down the field faster than normal. It might feel prescribed but oftentimes the sentiment of being adored overrides the victim’s ability to screen against this rapid and unusual behaviour. A good thing to remember is that genuine affection evolves organically, and haste should be a glaring red flag for any relationship, especially those formed online.

Also, this valentine's day do exercise caution if your newfound romantic bestie solicits financial assistance — particularly through unconventional channels such as gift cards, cryptocurrency, or wire transfers. Important reminder: legitimate relationships are built on mutual trust, not monetary transactions — and it’s fair to say the two aren’t connected. For example, the scammer might say “I trust you” and send a small amount of funds to establish such behaviour. Naturally, the victim may feel inclined to return that level of trust when the actor asks for an incrementally higher financial favour. This method of trust establishment is often found in Pig Butchering scams that are used in investment scam campaigns but can also be utilized in the romantic arena.

Who Am I Really Talking to?

Keep your eyes peeled and make sure to scrutinize the digital footprint of your new online acquaintance for oddities and inconsistencies. Try conducting reverse image searches to verify the authenticity of profile pictures and cross-reference information to detect shady characters. Online scammers will often use catfishing techniques so do exercise caution when establishing any online relationship. Tips: Ask them to speak on the phone or send a picture of what they said they did or where they are. Scammers using a fake profile will likely make excuses such as their camera being broken or that they are shy.

Pay close attention to their communication either written or spoken as differences in personal details or geographical area may help lead to the suspicion required to make an early saving of your hard earned money. Fraudsters are smart. They have sometimes unusually complicated things happening in their lives that they need help with. Ask them for more background information and gauge their response, this is when you can more easily obtain inconsistent information that can help you assess if the person is legitimate or not.

Be very skeptical of those claiming to be overseas as it is a common excuse not to meet in person if the actor is out of the country for work or pleasure. What authorities see are claims by fraudsters to live near the victim but cites overseas employment as a barrier to being physically present. Such instances may double as a pretext for soliciting financial aid using logistical challenges as part of the ploy.

Uh-oh, I think I’ve Been Scammed! What Do I Do Now?

If you suspect you’ve fallen victim to a romance scam — fast action is very important. Contact local law enforcement authorities immediately and tell them what happened. You can also file a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. While banks may offer safeguards against fraudulent activity — the ultimate responsibility is left with the individual to exercise vigilance and caution. Unfortunately, financial institution safeguards are often ignored by victims even if the warning signs are in plain sight.

A proactive approach in fraud prevention initiatives can help take a bite out of what’s turned into a burgeoning market for scammers and organizations such as the Canadian Bankers Association offer invaluable resources and seminars aimed at improving the financial literacy and awareness to those in an effort to combat prevalent scams of the day.

We here at MyBTC.ca would love for you to enjoy your Valentine’s day safely with peace of mind. If you think you could be the victim of a romance scam, please contact our staff and tell us about what you think is going on so we can help analyze your scenario and guide you through the next steps. Thanks for reading and have a happy Valentine's day Canada!

Published: 2024-02-14

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