Strategy

Canadian Woman Loses $1.3m in Dating Scam

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A mother has become Canada’s biggest victim of a romance scam – losing $1.3m over five years.

The 65-year-old from British Columbia joined Match.com in 2010 and met a man called Dave Field.

Speaking anonymously to the Toronto Star, she told how her and this “somewhat handsome, balding middle-aged man”, began chatting online and off.

After a few failed meetups, the requests began to start – saying he needed money to free up a large offshore inheritance.

It started with a $945 transaction through MoneyGram and went on to cost Ellen over $1.3m – leaving the retired mother with nothing.

She reported it to Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, who found the worldwide transactions were all being re-routed to accounts in Lagos, Nigeria.

Daniel Williams of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre told the Star: “What we’re dealing with is organized crime.

“No one is doing this to one person. 

“For the one person that contacts us about it, there are 15 who have not, and 30 who will be scammed in future.”

He said the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre have had $50m worth of fraud reported to them over four years.

(To read Ellen’s full story, go to the Toronto Star who have the exclusive, along with an investigation into Canadian dating scams.)

The number of romance scams has increased as online dating has proliferated – recent cases include mother-daughter duo the Vasseurs, who helped steal £1.1m as part of a Nigerian-based scam.

In November this year a Canadian woman from Victoria lost $88,000.

Recently Yuliana Avalos sued Match.com for $1.5bn for the unauthorised use of photos in many fake profiles.

Alavos said that someone taken in by one of these profiles, Al Circelli, killed himself after sending over $50,000 to Ghana.

Countries that are regularly involved with online fraud include Nigeria, Ghana, Russia, Ukraine, Philippines and Malaysia. 

In 2011, the FBI said that they received 5,600 complaints – the total collective losses that year amounting to $50.4 million.

According to the FBI, romance scams are under-reported because many victims are too embarrassed to file a complaint.

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