A Victoria resident was bilked out of $88,000 in a romance website scam.
The victim, who is in her 60s, developed an online relationship with the scammer over several months, said Victoria police spokesman Const. Mike Russell. They met over an online dating website and spoke over messenger services and she eventually agreed to send money.
The victim became suspicious of the transaction and went to Victoria police after the person cut off contact once tens of thousands of dollars were transferred overseas.
Red flags were raised along the way such as the victim didn’t know the proper spelling of the man’s name, his birthday or other things you would know if you were in a relationship, Russell said.
Bank staff also tried to persuade the woman not to send the funds.
She still sent the cash and tracking of the funds showed it had gone through Malaysia into Nigeria,
The man gave a fake name and once the money is wired, it’s near impossible to track, Russell said.
“When that money is gone over international borders like that and it’s out in the ether there it nothing we can do that’s why we’re trying to make people aware of this,” he said.
In June, Victoria police investigated two other dating website scams, including one which left a victim scammed out of $50,000.
The victims were asked to send information and money overseas to secure storage and shipping for a large quantity of gold.
“It’s a sad reality that frauds like this are prevalent even here in Victoria,” said Det. Mike Johnston, of the department’s financial crimes section. “We’ve seen time and time again that tens of thousands of dollars are being taken from victims here in our communities. We’re hoping that people will think twice before sending any cash or agreeing to any payment options that may seem even a bit suspicious.”
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