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Because they have so much money coming in, they can wait.”The reason for the request probably meshes with the story: their passport has been lost, or their child needs a doctor, or there’s some other emergency.It can start with a few hundred dollars, or a thousand. “He said, ‘It’s not a game.’ And what was the excuse?“I thought it would be fun just to banter back and forth with somebody,” she says. “I said, ‘If there was no chance of you coming to Canada, I’ll come to L. “He didn’t balk at that.” But when she booked her ticket, she says, things changed. Eventually, she says, “Dave” would give her bank account numbers and she would wire him — or people purporting to act for him — wire transfers for tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, at a time.
She reported the loss to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, and is now their biggest recorded victim of so-called romance fraud — a new take on the Nigerian email scam.“They want to know who you’re looking for because that’s who they become.”Then comes the ask.“Some are asking for money within two weeks,” Williams says.He or she might be attracted by the photo someone posts: a pretty young woman, or a soldier in uniform. For men, the female scammer presents herself to her target as “young and vulnerable.”For women, the man-on-the-make may say he’s wealthy or of high status, like a businessman or top soldier.
Or someone might reach out and start the conversation. He may also have a touching backstory: widowed, “lost their wife in a tragic accident, and are sometimes left with a child to care for.” “They want to know who you’re looking for,” Williams says.
She was single, her kids were grown and had lives of their own. “I don’t like the idea of not being able to help somebody if I can.”Emails from “Dave” to Ellen, which she provided to the Star, use endearments like “baby,” “honey” and “sweetheart,” and end with “hugs, kisses and love.” Ellen says she wasn’t head-over-heels for him — which would make her different from many other victims of romance scams — and by the end of the con, she just wanted her money back.