Be wary of online romance scams, warns Edmonton man duped out of $143,000

Con was confined to a hospital bed when he struck up a relationship with a stranger online.

He thought he had found the perfect match in the black-haired woman named Deborah, but it was all a scam.

During more than a year of online correspondence and phone calls, the Edmonton man was defrauded of $143,000.

Con hopes that sharing his ordeal will prevent others from being duped by other online romance scams. 

He’s holding a news conference Monday in partnership with the Edmonton Police Service economic crimes section Det. Linda Herczeg, who investigated his case.

To help protect his privacy, police have not released Con’s last name.

‘Hope that it would be real’

Con said his desire for a family is what kept him on the hook for so long.

“Hope that it would be real,” he said in a statement. “Having her and her kid. Money isn’t important. This is; having someone else in the house besides me.”

Con’s story is not unusual, police said. In 2018, EPS investigated 11 romance scams totaling an overall reported loss of more than $1.1 million. In 2017, police investigated 10 cases with an overall reported loss of $397,000.

In Con’s case, the woman claimed to be a United States citizen on an overseas contract as a computer civil engineer — and the single mom of a nine-year-old boy.

She asked repeatedly for money, for electronics, medical bills and travel expenses. 

When Con denied her first request for $600 to replace a broken phone, she stopped messaging him.

When they started talking again months later, she again asked for money. He sent $100 for a new phone. It wasn’t enough and the messages stopped. 

Nearly a year later, Deborah told Con she was laid off and needed help. She needed to get home, but she didn’t have enough; she was $1,500 short.

Con paid, but the next day, ticket prices apparently went up and he paid the difference. Then the woman claimed that her son had been diagnosed with malaria. Shortly after, she said they had been involved in a collision and had hospital bills.

She promised to pay him back once she got home to the U.S.

Throughout their correspondence, she sent photographs, bank statements, even X-rays. She told him that she loved him and wanted to be with him.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking that these scammers are taking someone’s desire for happiness and using it against them,” Herczeg said in a news release.

“They commit all of their time into these scams because it’s their job and it’s lucrative.”

Police said there are warning signs that a dating site user is a scammer;

  • They ask you for money.
  • They profile you and tell you everything you want to hear.
  • They will find out what you are looking for in a relationship and create events that will play on your emotions to get you to send money.
  • They groom you for as long as it takes (days, months, years) to get your money by being attentive, lavishing you with attention and compliments, and tell you that they love you. Usually they profess their love early in the relationship.
  • They are always available because it is usually a group of individuals that are sending you messages, working off a script.
  • The images of your “loved one” will be stolen from the internet.
  • Your “loved one” will always have an excuse why they can’t meet you.
  • They will always find a reason for you to send them more money.



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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.

History

Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.
Geography

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

Originally posted 2019-03-18 10:04:11. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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