When it comes to matters of the heart, proper judgment isn’t always prevalent. The Weyburn Police Service received a report on January 5th of a person who had been victimized by an online romance scam.
“The person struck up a relationship-type conversation online. As a result of that, the victim ended up sending some money to this newfound friend, newfound romance,” explained Deputy Chief Rod Stafford.
“At the end of the day, it ended up not being legitimate, it was, in fact, a scam and the person wasn’t, in fact, speaking with somebody that maybe they had hoped to start a personal relationship with and suffered an actual loss of money,” he said.
Whether or not criminal charges would be applicable in a case like this depends on a few factors.
“We did enough of an investigation to learn that the money had been sent off-shore, so that kind of, at that point, stops us from being able to investigate much further,” Stafford explained. “I mean, if you knew you were sending money to somebody for whatever and you willingly sent that, likely it wouldn’t be a crime then, it would just be a poor choice, I guess.”
He explained further what constitutes a fraud investigation.
“I don’t know exactly from that file what was held out as being offered for that money,” he said. “Whether they were going to get something back, whether it was for ‘buy a plane ticket so I can come visit you’, and that never materialized, then that still could be considered a fraud.”
So, if a person is misled and they choose to part with their money as a result, it’s only fraud if something is offered in return for the money. If, however, one willingly sends money of their own volition, it’s more difficult to process the report into criminal charges.