‘Dirty John’-style romance scams cost Canadians millions, police say

Romance scams surpass all other types of fraud in Canada

One expert calls it a “Dirty John” scenario: An alleged scam artist who woos victims with romance and charm.

Simon Sherry, a clinical psychologist and professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Dalhousie University, says such scams are often pulled off by people with “a very dark constellation of traits.”

READ MORE: Cat-phishing tops list of Better Business Bureau’s 10 scams of 2018

“These individuals tend to be narcissistic, psychopathic, Machiavellian, and sadistic,” he says. ”Someone possessed by these traits can be very exploitative and parasitic, and that’s usually part of a lifelong pattern where others are used in a callous and unemotional way.”

Sherry says they can be charming, well-groomed and self-assured, and they tend to excel in the early stages of a relationship.

As for the victims, he says “it’s difficult to withstand the tsunami of charm and persuasion.”

Such scams were highlighted in the true-crime series “Dirty John,” based on a California case. And some Canadian women have come forward to detail how they succumbed to the charms of a more polite, bilingual version of the notorious U.S. scammer.

Romance scams surpass all other types of fraud in Canada, with 760 victims reporting losses of more than $22.5 million to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre last year.

Sgt. Andrew Joyce with the Nova Scotia RCMP Financial Crime Section says the majority of those scams are online, with the victim never even meeting the perpetrator.

“This sort of Dirty John scenario where they have a relationship gets a lot more complicated,” he says, noting that they are also less common.

Joyce says proving a crime beyond a reasonable doubt is a challenge in these cases, which is why police may recommend victims pursue a civil case where the threshold is the lower balance of probabilities.

Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

ARTS AROUND: Last call for cruise ship vendors

Last cruise ship arrives in the Alberni Inlet on July 6

BIZ BEAT: Port Alberni businesses celebrate milestones

RE/MAX Mid-Island moving into new building on Johnston Road

Solda’s Family Restaurant celebrates 50 years in Port Alberni

Restaurant is currently up for sale to “the right buyer”

Cherry Creek, Beaver Creek imposes water restrictions

Stage 1 water restrictions now in effect

Paint your toe for Pride in Port Alberni

Alberni couple launches campaign to show support for the LGBTQ community

VIDEO: B.C. First Nation plans to launch legal challenge after Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, Premier John Horgan says he’ll continue to defend the B.C. coast

Life’s work of talented B.C. sculptor leads to leukemia

Former Salmon Arm resident warns of dangers of chemical contact

Billboard posted along B.C.’s Highway of Tears to remember missing and murdered Indigenous women

Billboards featuring Indigenous artwork to be placed in Surrey, Kamloops and near Prince George

Federal cabinet ministers visit Edmonton, Calgary, in wake of TMX approval

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi is set to visit Trans Mountain Corp.’s terminal in Edmonton

B.C. municipality prepares to forbid overnight camping by homeless despite court ruling

While courts have ruled against blanket bans, Langley City is employing a site-by-site approach

B.C. auditor says Indigenous grad rate highest ever but education gaps exist

The percentage of Indigenous students graduating from B.C. public high schools has hit its highest level ever

Statistics Canada reports annual pace of inflation rises in May to 2.4%

Transportation prices gained 3.1 per cent as the cost of air transportation added 8.9 per cent

UPDATE: Fire crews suppress smouldering fire on North Island near Highway 19

Wildfire has reached .25 hectares, according to BC Wildfire Service

Man to be sentenced for sexual abuse of young girl in Nanaimo

Stephen Mark Castleden also sentenced for child pornography-related charges

Most Read