Winnipeg Police Services
Crime Prevention

They say love is blind and, in its most altruistic sense, that is a wonderful notion. 

But, it’s also a reason we need to be cautious when seeking new romance in this day and age. Our Financial Crimes Unit has way too many stories of online romance taking horribly wrong turns, leaving trusting Winnipeggers alone and out – in many cases – thousands of dollars. It’s not just happening to younger people. We are seeing this scam hit more and more seniors. 

Scammers capitalize on the vulnerability of those looking for love or companionship to extract significant amounts of money from their victims. In the past few months, we are aware of one male who remortgaged his home to share more than $200,000 with a potential suitor. In another instance a woman provided more than $150,000 from savings to assist an online love interest.

If it sounds like a lot of money, it is. Most victims of the Romance Scam that Winnipeg Police Service Financial Crime Unit have spoken with do not realize how much they have given the scammer. Small but substantial gifts or assists add up over a period of time leading to homes refinanced and life savings drained.

As we approach Valentine’s Day, we hope you have someone special in your life if that is what you want. But, if you are out there looking for love please protect yourself, protect your heart, and protect your bank account. 

Romance scams are one of the most devastating frauds because not only is there a potential for a financial loss, but an emotional loss as well. 

The scammer inserts themselves into the life of their victim and develops a relationship over a period of time. Once that trust is built, eventually the scammer will begin to manipulate the victim to provide money for travel expenses, payments to foreign governments, or medical expenses.

Preventing fraud takes an awareness to recognize when an offering is false, in knowing how to protect your personal information, and in how to prevent yourself from falling to pressure tactics from con artists. Keep an eye out, and help us spread the word. 

As with so many things on the internet, what you see is not always what you get. False photos. False pretenses. The requests for money are real and once the money is gone, it is really gone. 

• Never send money to anyone you only know from an unsolicited phone call or email.

• Avoid providing sensitive personal information online or over the phone in situations you did not initiate

• Research any request for money before making a commitment. Use a google image search to determine if the picture you are seeing of your suitor has been identified in other scams. 

• Find a “Fraud Buddy” – someone whose advice you respect – and run any request for money by them before you commit to it.

• Never feel pressured to make a quick decision, and

• If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

We also know there can be a lot of shame for victims of these crimes but if you have been victimized it is important you come forward. 

If you’ve sent money or transferred money or goods on behalf of a scammer, the police and financial institutions need to be aware in order to properly investigate, recover stolen funds and/or goods if possible and work toward preventing further criminal activity.

If you, or someone you know, are involved in a potential romance scam, contact the Winnipeg Police Service to make a report. The public can also call the Financial Crime Unit at 204-986-6231 for assistance and advice, or go to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website at:


By Cst. Garnie Mcintyre, Wpg. Police Dept.