British Columbia residents are being warned about romance scams in which criminals pretend to be the actor Jeremy Renner.
Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers said the scammers have been engaging with women on social media sites.
“The scammer has made promises to come to the victim’s location and meet up with them but of course there is a hitch,” Crime Stoppers explained.
“The scammer needs money for various reasons, ie for airfare, passport fees, etc.”
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Renner – whose movies include The Hurt Locker and Wind River – has posted messages in the past warning fans not to fall for scams.
He wrote: “Only visit official blue checked sites on social media and my app for contests or offers that never ask for MONEY!!!”
Crime Stoppers also offered the following tips to avoid being scammed:
• Be suspicious when someone you haven't met in person professes their love to you. Ask yourself – would someone I’ve never met really declare their love after only a few emails?
• Be wary when someone you meet on social media wants to quickly move to a private mode of communication (email, text).
• If trying to set up an in-person meeting, be suspicious if they always have an excuse not to meet.
• If you do actually set up a meeting – tell family and friends when and where you’re going and meet in a local, public place.
• Do not share personal (birthdate, address) or financial information with anyone you’ve only just met online or in person.
• Never send intimate photos or video of yourself. The scammer may try to use these to blackmail you into sending money.
• Be cautious when conversing with an individual that claims to live close to you but is working overseas.
• Never under any circumstances send money for any reason. The scammer will make it seem like an emergency, they may even express distress or anger to make you feel guilty but DO NOT send money.
• Should you be asked to accept money (e-transfer, cheque) or goods (usually electronics) for you to transfer/send elsewhere, do not accept to do so. This is usually a form of money laundering which is a criminal offence.
• If you suspect a loved one may be a victim of a romance scam – based on any above points –explain the concerns and risks to them and help them get out of the situation.
• Do an image search of the admirer to see if their photo has been taken from a stock photo site or someone else’s online profile;
• Look for inconsistencies in their online profile vs. what they tell you;
• Watch for poorly written, vague messages, sometimes even addressing you by the wrong name –often scammers are working several victims at once;
• If you have transferred money, stop the transaction if possible.
Report it: How should I respond?
• If you did send money or share financial information, report it to the financial institution used e.g. your bank, Western Union, MoneyGram.
• Gather all information pertaining to the situation, including the scammer’s profile name, how you made contact, social media screenshots, emails, etc. and contact your local police.
• File a report with the CAFC toll-free at 1-888-495-8501 or online antifraudcentre.ca.
• Notify the dating website or social media site where you met the scammer. Scammers usually have more than one account. Be proactive, tell family, friends, coworkers and neighbours about your experience to warn them about romance scams.
We strongly suggest that you REPORT THE INCIDENT for the following reasons:
• 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.
• Reporting romance scams helps fraud authorities to warn other people about current scams, monitor trends and disrupt scams where possible.