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Dating apps used to swindle $200K from lonely hearts, say Saanich police

Police offer tips to not get caught in romance scams
The voice you hear on the other end of your phone call may not be who you think it is, the person you’re texting with may really be a bot and the face in a photo or video on your favourite dating app may not even exist. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP

Saanich police say their detectives have made an arrest after people were scammed out of nearly $200,000 over a three-year period through the use of dating apps.

Saanich Police began to investigate a romance scam in the fall of 2019 in which various dating apps were used to connect with dozens of people with the intent to obtain money.

A person would seek individuals who, through deception and false information, provided them with financial assistance with the promise of him paying them back.

“Over the next three years, (the person) continued this scheme and would limit contact with the victims once they asked for the money back,” said a Saanich police statement.

“This person was highly manipulative and deceptive in his scheme,” said Const. Markus Anastasiades, in a statement. “While each case is unique, we encourage people never to send money to anyone they have only communicated with online or by phone.”

A suspect has been arrested and now charged. This person is prohibited from the use of online dating apps and from entering into any private loan agreement.

If you have information related to this investigation, contact the Saanich Police Department’s Major Crime Unit at

Some additional tips regarding romance scams from Saanich police:

  • Never under any circumstance send money for any reason. The scammer will make it seem like an emergency, they may even express distress or anger to make you feel guilty but DO NOT send money. END THE CONVERSATION!
  • To gain your money, they say their funds are locked, they were in an accident, they have medical bills, have to pay government fees, have to pay a lawyer, have to pay their outstanding mortgage.
  • Should you be asked to accept money (e-transfer, cheque) or goods (usually electronics) for you to then transfer/send elsewhere.
  • Notify the dating website or social media site where you met the scammer. Scammers usually have more than one account.
  • Do not share personal (birthdate, address) or financial information with anyone you’ve only just met online or in person.
  • Never send intimate photos or videos of yourself. The scammer may try to use these to blackmail you into sending money.
  • Be proactive; tell family, friends, co-workers, and neighbours about your experience to warn them about romance scams.

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Chris Campbell

About the Author: Chris Campbell

I joined the Victoria News hub as an editor in 2023, bringing with me over 30 years of experience from community newspapers in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley
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