5 charged in online romance scam in Ontario that targeted seniors, netted $250K

Toronto police say they have arrested and charged five Ontario residents in an online romance scam that targeted seniors across Canada.

The total amount of money lost to victims in the case is about $250,000, police said in a news release on Friday.

Investigators said the victims began online relationships through profiles on social media sites and were conned into sending money to various bank accounts after a period of time.

Police identified a number of suspects who opened and controlled bank accounts that had been set up to receive the funds from the romance frauds.

According to police, the accounts were both legitimate and fraudulent accounts that were opened using counterfeit identification.

The police’s financial crimes unit — mass marketing section and members of an organization called the Toronto Strategic Partnership began an investigation in December 2018 into what police are calling this “romance-type fraud scam.”

The partnership involves the Toronto police, RCMP, Competition Bureau of Canada, Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Affairs, Ontario Ministry of Finance, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

4 of accused are from Toronto, 1 from London, Ont.

In September, police carried out four search warrants and arrested five people. Four of the accused, aged 35, 36, 33 and 45, are from Toronto. One, 24, is from London, Ont.

Police said money was taken from bank accounts under the name of “George Bature,” “Foday Amos,” and “Jonathan Faith.”

One of the accused, who is 45, was allegedly in possession of fraudulent government identities under the following names: Jonathan Faith; Foday Amos; Sabia Smith; Scott Miller; Eric Menke; and Aaron Tubman.

All of the accused are facing possession of proceeds of crime and launder proceeds of crime charges.

Investigators said the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada and London police aided the investigation.

Police said anyone who believes he or she is a victim of a romance fraud scam and has sent money to someone online should contact its financial crimes unit.

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