‘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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Non-profits that are helping people impacted by COVID-19 can apply for relief funding

Red Deer and District FCSS can draw from a provincial pot of $30 million

No Alberta renter will be evicted for non-payment on April 1, promises the premier

No evictions during the entire Alberta public health emergency

Opening Red Deer’s safe consumption site would reduce strain on system during COVID-19, says advocate

Alberta should give also give addicts clean drugs, added Deborah Watson

Sylvan Lake product named SCAHL’s Best Goaltender

West Central Bantam AA Tigers’ Spencer Michnik received the coach-voted award for the 2019-20 season

A message from the publisher

Consider a voluntary subscription to Sylvan Lake News

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

Families urge action to get Canadians home from cruise ship stuck off Panama

1,243 passengers and 586 crew on board and more tests are being done every day

Canada could face legal trouble over refugee deportations: advocates

Deputy Prime Minister Freeland holding ‘urgent’ discussions with U.S. officials

Regions brace to fight rising flood waters and cases of COVID-19

Pontiac is one of dozens of flood-prone regions bracing for the possibility of rising waters

Feds working to get 248 Canadians stranded on COVID-19-infected cruise ship home

The federal government is working with the Panamanian government and Holland America

Most Read