© erhui1979 / iStockphoto

“Romance scams,” in which fraudsters lure victims into online relationships and ask for money under false pretenses, surpassed all other types of fraud in Canada last year, resulting in losses of more than $22.5 million from 760 victims, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

“As Valentine’s Day fast approaches, the RCMP is asking Canadians to be cautious when searching for that special someone online,” the police force says in a statement. “Scammers are capitalizing on the vulnerability of those looking for love or companionship to extract significant amounts of money from their victims.”

If browsing an online dating site or app, the RCMP says, Canadians should protect themselves by being wary of people who claim to live in their area but who are “currently overseas” for work, people who continuously cancel or refuse video chats or in-person meetings, or anyone they’ve never met professing their love.

“Scammers may also ask for help covering the cost of an emergency situation, such as a sick family member. Protect yourself by never, under any circumstances, sending money for any reason,” the RCMP says.

If a client has been a victim of this type of fraud, the RCMP says the client should file a report with a local police detachment as well as the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.