Huron County OPP are reminding the public to be wary of romance scams after a senior was bilked out of roughly $700,000 from a scammer they began speaking with in 2018, who at one point claimed to have been abducted by terrorists and in need of ransom money.
Police say investigators learned of the incident on Wednesday after being contacted by the victim’s daughter.
According to police, the senior met the scammer online in 2018 “through a popular social media messenger service.”
“The scammer claimed to be a surgeon working for the United Nations and at one point used a ruse that he had been abducted by a terrorist entity and needed some money to pay off his ransom,” police said in a release.
“The scammer was also sent money to help with surgeries, medical treatment, international flights and other emergencies.”
OPP did not provide any other details about the investigation, but police are using the opportunity to warn the public about romance scams, which involve an individual “with false romantic intentions toward a victim” gaining their trust for the purpose of obtaining money or access to their financial information.
Police say victims will often develop a very strong emotional attachment to the scammer “and emotional triggers will often prevail over sound judgment.”
Police say the public should be suspicious if someone professes their love without ever having met in person, if someone always has an excuse not to meet in person and if someone claims to live nearby but says they are working overseas.
In 2020, police say the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) received 899 complaints related to romance scams involving 620 victims losing a combined $18.5 million.