The Quebec provincial police (Surete du Quebec) arrested a dozen people in Quebec City, Outaouais and Montreal Tuesday in connection with a vast alleged romance scam.
SQ spokesperson Catherine Bernard confirmed that six more people were arrested in Cote d’Ivoire by authorities there.
The alleged head of the scam Sogli Espoir Kouassi and his two accomplices Akissi Christelle Semon and Yapo Landry N’Cho, all in their 30s, allegedly operated a phishing scam for several years, according to the SQ.
Police say the scam involved targetting mostly elderly people through social media and online dating sites and apps.
About 50 victims fell prey to the scam, which raked in around $2.3 million, according to the SQ.
“We don’t have any of the companies they used, but it’s very large,” said Bernard. “They used the site to get into a relationship with the person and asked for money.”
The suspects arrested Tuesday appeared by video conference on charges of fraud or concealment.
A full arrest record will be released Tuesday, police say.
The operation was carried out in collaboration with Revenu Quebec, the Canada Revenue Service, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) and the police authorities of Cote d’Ivoire.
“There are going to be six people arrested Cote d’Ivoire by the authorities in Cote D’Ivoire,” said Bernard.
Police say other people may have been victimized by the scam, and are asking anyone who may have been a victim of this or any romance scam to contact their local police station.
Authorities add that romance scams are the number one form of fraud committed against seniors.