A woman who was scammed out of thousands of dollars by a romance fraudster is speaking out for the first time.
Sara, whose name is being disguised to protect her identity, says 37-year-old Reza Moeinian of Maple Ridge, B.C. preyed on her, made her think he was in love with her and then fled with her money.
Turns out, Sara was just one of Moeinian’s victims and more are now coming forward.
Sara sat down with Global News and the Coquitlam RCMP to talk about what happened after she was introduced to Moeinian through a friend.
She was told he was from a good family, he was rich and was looking for a good woman to possibly become his wife.
Sara had her doubts about Moeinian from the beginning but after talking and texting for about three weeks, the two met in person.
“Honestly, I didn’t like him the first time I met him, I didn’t have a good feeling towards him,” she said. “He didn’t have the proper clothes on for a rich person for a first date, but I didn’t want to judge him.”
“Right after that in the evening he texted me and he said ‘wow, I didn’t know that such a girl exists, I’m so pleased to meet you, I want to take you for formal, official, dates’.”
She said after he would text her every day saying how much he wanted her and how he wanted to be in a relationship with her.
She still had some doubts, but in December Moeinian texted and again asked her for another chance to meet in person.
All about the money
When they met, Moeinian asked her questions about her life, her job and how much money she was making.
She told him, saying “I think most people think honest relationships should be started with honesty.”
When Sara asked Moeinian about his job, he told her he was a millionaire and owned a construction business.
Everyday, she said he declared his love for her, saying how much he desired her.
“He has such a strong ability to make a person feel love right away,” she said. “I thought okay, maybe this is the type of person I could trust.”
But little did she know, Moeinian was using Sara’s social insurance number to access her banking information. When he saw she had very good credit, he started applying for credit cards in her name.
He ended up with 19 cards in Sara’s name, stealing more than $100,000.
Whenever she questioned him about money and his business, he would tell her he was the businessman and she should trust him with these decisions.
Sara started to receive calls from banks asking her about the credit cards and limits but she didn’t know what they were talking about so she ignored them.
“I just said ‘fraud? What are you talking about?’ ” she said.
Sara said after almost a year of being together, they got engaged.
Before they were due to leave for their wedding and honeymoon, she wanted to sit down and talk with Moeinian, not about money, but about their relationship.
That’s when he started denying everything about her story, saying she had never given him any money.
He left her place and when she reached him by phone the next day, he started denying even knowing Sara.
“He completely denied even knowing me,” she said.
He had deleted all photos and videos of him from her phone so there was no evidence they had ever been together.
“It’s emotionally, physically, mentally and financially ruined my life,” she said. “I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there affected by him as well.”
Her friends told her to go to the police, and after some urging, she did.
READ MORE: Fraudsters pose as Canada Revenue Agency in tax season text message scam
Sara is not alone
Turns out, Moeinian has stolen substantial amounts of money from multiple victims.
And more are coming forward.
Cpl. Michael McLaughlin, media relations officer for Coquitlam RCMP, says Moeinian is in custody and has a court appearance coming up on Monday.
“This is not just something that happened over a few dates,” he said. “And that’s why it makes victims particularly vulnerable. People who do this sort of fraud are very clever, very smart people and they will go after whatever weaknesses or emotional keys any particular victim might have.”
McLaughlin said the initial investigation involved two separate victims but as the case continued, it became apparent there was a pretty clear risk of more cases around Metro Vancouver.
“I really applaud victims who are able to able to come forward and talk to police, we take that very seriously. We take this investigation very seriously.”
Impact on her family
Sara says the police have also been a big source of support for her, following up with her, to make sure she has the resources she needs and she feels safe.
“What happened to all those text messages, that love, heart, holding me, what happened to that?” she said.
Sara has now had to declare bankruptcy, meaning she can now no longer bring her family members to Canada due to her credit rating.
“That’s the part that hurts above mentally, emotionally, financially, above anything else. I was about to send the papers for my brother but now I am under bankruptcy I am no longer allowed to.”
She is speaking out because she now wants other women to be warned about men like Moeinian.
“I think it’s our responsibility to help people, by helping police, to give them information. That’s how we have a good life in Canada,” she said.