A Brantford, Ont., senior citizen who lost $400,000 in an internet scam fell victim to one of the most profitable deceptions, police say — romance.
For more than a year, the woman and a man had an intense online relationship. Eventually, the man started asking for money, saying he was “in hospital and dying with malaria” or that he had just been robbed.
Toward the end, he was asking for money to come to Canada and “begin the rest of their life together,” Brantford police say.
In the end, she transferred about $400,000 to various bank accounts in Ghana and the United Kingdom.
No one has been arrested in the case, and Brantford police say getting the money back will be almost impossible.
It started in the spring of 2014, when the woman joined an online dating service and started chatting with a man.
Police didn’t name either the woman or the online dating service.
According to police, the man quickly suggested they start talking through instant messaging — a warning sign, police say, because that kind of chat is less likely to be traced by authorities.
The two talked by phone, email and instant messaging.
Sadly, the chances of recovering the funds are usually slim to none.– Const. Natalie Laing
“The victim estimates at least 400 emails were sent back and forth, photographs were exchanged, [and] numerous daily conversations continued for almost a year,” a police news release said.
The man told the woman he had dual German and Canadian citizenship and that he’d previously lived in Hamilton. After about two months of talking, a “bond developed” between the two, police say.
The fraudster asked lots of questions about the woman, but wouldn’t answer personal questions himself and changed the subject when the victim tried to delve into his personal life.
“The suitor spun a web of deceitful tales while continuously reassuring the victim of his devotion and undying love for her,” the police news release said.
“It tugged at her heartstrings,” said Const. Natalie Laing. “She’s a very compassionate woman.”
The investigation is stillCONTINUING, but no arrests have been made, and there are no suspects, Laing said. A team of people is usually involved in this type of scam, with fake IDs used to collect the money.
“Sadly, the chances of recovering the funds are usually slim-to-none.”