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Toronto woman 'horrified' after losing $95,000 to romance scam

Romance scams have always been around, but they got worse during the pandemic, and fraudsters continue to use social media and dating sites to find victims.

“He seemed like an extremely nice person and age-wise and whatever, we seem to connect that way and have a lot in common,” Nancy said.

CTV News Toronto agreed to address her as Nancy to protect her identity.

Nancy was defrauded of $95,000 in a romance scam by a man who claimed to be living in Singapore. He said he was in love with her and wanted to borrow money from her to move to Canada.

Nancy said she had gone through a divorce, and when someone reached out to her through Facebook, she said they made a connection -- over time, he said he fell in love with her.

They messaged almost daily, and Nancy said the man sent a photo he claimed was him.

“This person said he loved me, and he wanted to come to Canada, but he didn't have the money. Could I help him?” said Nancy.

At first, the man said he needed $60,000, which he would pay back, but then he asked for another $35,000.

“I was horrified losing that money. But I actually believed that I was getting that back. I really and truly did,” she said.

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), romance scam losses in Canada totalled $65 million in 2021, 59 million in 2022 and already have topped $13.8 million in the first three months of 2023.

"Suspects will often claim to be in the military or in business, and they will really craft their story profile and imagines to suit whatever story they are giving their victims,” said Jeff Horncastle with CAFC.

Some signs of a romance scam include someone declaring their love for you quickly, making excuses not to meet in person, and telling you not to discuss your relationship with others.

They may have an online relationship for months before asking for money, saying it’s needed for an emergency, hospital bills or for them to travel to see you.

All ages are targeted in romance scams, some of which evolve into cryptocurrency fraud.

"What we are seeing with young people as well as seniors is that they start off as romance scams, and they turn into investment scams," said Horncastle.

As for Nancy, she is devastated she lost her money and embarrassed it happened. Looking back, she said she believes her emotions allowed her to be caught in a trap.

“You almost feel like you've been brainwashed. That's how you feel and now your brain is clearing and you saying this is all fake? It was all a lie?” said Nancy.

Once money is sent in a romance scam, it's almost impossible to get back, because if you authorized the transfers the banks will say it's your fault. Top Stories

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