A number of people in BC who shared their personal information on dating apps have received frightening videos and images from blackmailers demanding money.
In the last month, Burnaby RCMP has heard nine reports of people who were blackmailed for money after they shared their phone numbers and home addresses when using dating services.
In three of those cases, it was reported that the fraudsters sent the victims videos that appear to show the fraudsters driving to the victim’s home with AR-15-style rifles while threatening to kill the victims and their families.
Police say the victims also received graphic photos of dead bodies while the fraudsters continued to demand money.
“We have seen romance scams before, but this one is unique due to the graphic and alarming videos and pictures that are sent to the victims as a scare tactic,” Corporal Alexa Hodgin says. “We want the public to be aware of this scam method to prevent victims from sending money out of fear.”
Mounties have not been able to find the source of the videos and photos but confirmed the same video and images have been shared with multiple victims.
How to protect yourself
As more people use apps to help connect them with friends and partners, Mounties say there are steps you can take to help protect you:
- Google them: A reverse image search is a quick and easy way to see if their photo has been copied from someone else on the internet.
- Do not send money: It’s a red flag if someone you met online is asking you for money.
- Don’t be afraid to say no: If you are feeling uncomfortable or feel intimidated by someone online, say no.
- Don’t give out personal information: Keep in mind you may not truly know who you are talking to online and beware of unsolicited calls where the caller asks you for personal information, such as: your name, address, birthdate, Social Insurance Number (SIN), credit card, or banking information.
You can find more information on the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.
All victims of fraud are encouraged to report these incidents to the police.