Several women have come forward claiming they were victims of a romance scam by a Waterloo, Ont. man.
According to Waterloo Regional Police, the 49-year-old allegedly defrauded dozens of women out of more than $2 million over 15 years. In some instances he claimed to be a government agent.
The man, who police have not publicly named, was arrested in November.
He’s been charged with fraud over $5,000 and possession of stolen property over $5,000.
PERFECT ON PAPER
Many of the women CTV News spoke to have a similar story. They were all single mothers looking for love online when they came across a guy who looked perfect on paper. That was followed by heartbreak when they found out they were dating the same man for years.
Melisa C, from Ottawa, Ont., said she met the man on an online dating site in 2016 and they were in a serious relationship until 2020.
“He came on very strong, very fast,” Melisa told CTV News.
She said he claimed to be an undercover government agent who worked overseas, which meant strict rules about when and how they could get together. He also told her what not to do if they accidentally ran into each other.
“If I ever see him on the street with anyone else I have to not acknowledge him because he might be with an undercover family,” Melisa admitted. “I would blow his cover, which is quite genius.”
She said there were other red flags.
One was not having any photos taken together during their four year relationship.
“He can’t risk having his face shown because he’s undercover all the time,” she explained.
After they ended their relationship, she said they still kept in touch.
Then she found out she wasn’t the only woman in his life.
“He was a CSIS agent, always away on assignment,” said another women from Ontario who did not want to reveal her identity.
She was dating the same man for 10 years. Their relationship started in 2011, she said, and they also met online.
“Catches us at a low point, I guess, where it’s easy for us to believe in love and think: ‘Holy, this is going to be great.’”
Both women said they didn’t give him any money and they’re grateful for it, but that doesn’t mean the man didn’t try to.
“I think he was grooming me because he told me that he wanted to invest in me,” Melisa explained.
Many of the women who claim to be victims have connected with one another and shared similar stories.
“Like one woman – he’s taken her whole life savings,” Melisa said.
Both women described the man as affectionate and always messaging them, but he often came up with excuses not to meet. They claimed he had several phones and several ID’s with him, which made it more believable that he had secretive job.
Melisa said he often went through the back door or showed up in disguises.
“I think he’s been telling these lies for so long that he believes them.”
POTENTIALLY MORE VICTIMS
Police said many of the women were from Waterloo Region. Some were from other Ontario communities and even other countries.
Police also believe there could be more victims and they’re hoping others come forward.
“Justice needs to be served. You can’t do this to people. You can’t harm and manipulate innocent people for your own ego, for your game,” Melisa said.
Police have not yet released his name but the women who contacted CTV News believe they’re victims of the same man.
He’s expected in court in January.