The Toronto Police Financial Crimes Unit is reminding the public to be extremely careful when communicating over the internet with strangers, particularly when being solicited for money.
The reminder comes in the wake of a ‘romance scam’ in which a former City of Toronto employee was initially defrauded of about $40,000.
Detective Alan Spratt said the fraud suspect(s) used the internet to develop an apparent long-term relationship with the victim and were able to convince het to assist them with a series of falsified financial issues.
“In this case, the suspect(s) were also able to convince the victim to sell her condominium and use the proceeds of the sale in pursuit of an alleged court-ordered ‘compensation’ of $22 million issued by the Nigerian courts,’ he said.
Using the assumed identities of real persons employed the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United Nations, the suspect(s) convinced the victim that she could claim a court award if she sent money to them to cover various fees, taxes and bribes of local officials in Nigeria.
“The scheme was a complex and lengthy one, involving fake news release confirming the award and taking place over a period of seven years,” said Spratt.
In pursuit of her alleged compensation, the victim was ultimately defrauded of an additional $400,000.
Spratt said that persons who believe they have been victimized through fraud should contact their local police.
“Members of the public are reminded that legitimate law enforcement rarely contacts individuals through social media or the internet and never solicits any kind of payment of fees for services rendered,” he added.
The Financial Crimes Unit wishes to remind people of the resources available to them to help identify fraud scams.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is available for victims or persons targeted by fraudsters to report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or by phone at 1-888-495-8501.
Anyone with information, questions or concerns regarding this incident should contact Spratt at the TPS Financial Crimes Unit-Mass Marketing Section at 416-808-7300.