West Vancouver police say it’s another case of romance gone wrong, with a con artist preying on victims through an online dating app.
Police are searching for Christian Michael Lee Richardson, whom they say used the gay dating app Grindr to gain the confidence of victims and defraud them of thousands of dollars.
According to a police media release, Richardson approached at least two men in October of last year using the screen name ‘Richard’ or ‘Quantum.’
Police said the con worked like this: Richardson allegedly befriended the men and offered to help them financially. He convinced them to open bank accounts in their own name, then wrote them cheques to deposit.
After they cashed the cheques, he encouraged them to share the money with him or to buy things for him.
WATCH: Victim of alleged romantic fraud artist speaks out
Days later, when the cheques had been processed, the victims realized they were bogus and were left on the hook to the bank for the money they had withdrawn.
Police said the victims reported losses totalling more than $3,000.
Following an investigation by West Vancouver Police, the Crown approved five charges against Richardson, including two counts of theft under $5,000, two counts of fraud under $5,000 and one count of uttering a forged document.
Police said Richardson is believed to be of no fixed address, and that a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Cst. Sandra Rijken of the West Vancouver Police Major Crimes Unit at 604-925-7300.
Investigators said it is possible that there are other victims who have yet to come forward, and are encouraging anyone who believes they have also been targeted to contact police.