shows as much as a third of Americans married since 2005 had met online.However, criminals are also finding more potential targets — posing under a fake identity and trying to earn trust before asking for money.
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"The computer is a wonderful place for people to hide, so it's very difficult for us to do the investigation if funds are sent out of the country," she said. it becomes extremely hard for us to get the correct documentation." The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre said Canadians lost $17 million to online dating fraud in 2012.
Over the last three years, they said Canadians have lost more money to these scams than any other kind of fraud, despite the number of victims barely registering in the top 10 when compared to other kinds.
Daniel Williams of the anti-fraud centre said this is because organized crime can take on such fraud on a massive scale. They're doing the same thing to many people at the same time," he said.
Williams said this means groups can go after small sums of money, as little as $40, but they have the capability to go after as much as tens of thousands of dollars.
They do this by taking on a persona shaped to what a potential victim says they’re looking for, along with waiting as many as nine to 10 months before bringing up money.
They will even arrange to meet in person if the reward is high enough, Williams added.
"They can afford to have the money come in many months later because there's a stream of money coming in all the time," said Williams.
CBC News has heard from a few victims of such fraud, including an Ottawa woman in 2010 who lost ,000 to a man who started out by asking her for loans, then moved on to opening credit card accounts in her name.
While that man eventually went to jail, the victim's money was gone for good.