Five men are suspected of being involved in a $2-million online dating scam in Regina. Saskatchewan RCMP have arrested and charged one man, and a Canada-wide warrant has been issued for the other four.
In January of 2018, a complaint was filed with RCMP about a person using someone’s name in a fraudulent online purchase. Saskatchewan RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) Unit investigated and revealed the incident was linked to many other frauds in Canada.
Sgt. Kim Stewart with the RCMP said seven women have come forward in relation to the fraud.
“There are many more victims out there, but at least we were able to find seven ladies that wanted to talk to us,” she said.
RCMP say an 18-month investigation led them to more than 50 bank accounts and FSOC identified five suspects living in Regina at the time of the crimes. Stewart said it started with one bank account and then “snowballed” from there into a “spiderweb” of a case.
“From there we were able to see money going into different accounts and leaving different accounts,” she said.
FSOC identified five suspects living in Regina at the time of the crimes.
“Police determined the five individuals have ties to what is believed to be a larger international criminal organization involved in the long-term running of online romance scams,” Saskatchewan RCMP said in a news release. “This criminal organization was found to be responsible for defrauding victims of a combined total of over $2 million through online romance scams over the past two years.”
Austin Newton, 28, is charged with fraudulently personating someone, fraud under $5,000, fraud over $5,000 and possession of the proceeds of crime.
He will appear in court on April 21 by video.
Kelvin Awani, 24, Jonah Eigbuluese, 22, Joshua Ometie, 25, and Clinton Newton, 27, are wanted on a Canada-wide warrant.
RCMP believe these men could be anywhere in Canada, and anyone with information about their location is asked to contact local police.
Stewart said fraud cases like these are very common and can be very difficult for the victims.
“We had some people who wouldn’t believe they were victims and that this was a scam and lots were too embarrassed to talk to us,” she said.
Anyone who believes they may be the victim of a fraud should contact local law enforcement.
“The more that we know, the more we’re going to be able to put the spiderweb together,” Stewart said.