Police have issued a public safety alert after a widow fell victim to a “complex and lengthy” online dating scam that eventually cost her a home.

Police say the suspect or suspects first came into contact with the victim in 2010 and began a long-term online relationship with her.

During the initial stages of that relationship, police say that the suspect or suspects convinced the woman to send a total of $40,000 in order to assist them with “a series of falsified financial issues.”

Police say that the suspect or suspects were then able to convince the woman to sell her condominium and provide them with another $400,000 to be used in the pursuit of a $22 million judgement that had been issued by the Nigerian court system.

The money was to be used to cover various fees, taxes and bribes of local officials, according to police.

It is further alleged that as part of the scam the suspect or suspects used assumed identities of real people employed by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United Nations. They also produced fake news releases confirming the existence of the award.

According to police, the victim was a former City of Toronto employee.

An investigation into the scam is ongoing.

“TPS Financial Crimes is reminding members of the public to be extremely cautious when communicating over the internet with strangers, particularly when being solicited for money, regardless of how sincere the request may seem,” police said in the public safety alert. “If you believe you have been victimized through fraud, contact your local police service to report it.”