Montreal (September 18, 2020) – The Sûreté du Quebec announced this week that they dismantled a vast network of romance fraudsters. On September 15, the Quebec provincial police made a dozen arrests in the regions Quebec City, Montreal, and the Outaouais in connection with the alleged romance scams. The police said the fraudsters allegedly targeted mostly elderly people using phishing methods. The romance scams had been going on for years and allegedly defrauded at least 50 victims out of about $2.3 million in total. The fraudsters are accused of having international ties. In Côte d’Ivoire, the local police also announced arrests relating to the Quebec romance scam network.
The Quebec provincial police dismantled a vast network of romance fraudsters that was duping people over years. The Sûreté du Quebec announced in a press release on September 15 that they made a dozen arrests in connection with the romance scams.
Quebec network of romance fraudsters
The fraudsters were preying on their victims for years already, police said. The scammers allegedly operated a phishing scam targeting vulnerable, mostly elderly people. Police allege that the scammers contacted their victims through dating sites and social networks.
According to the Sûreté du Quebec, about 50 people fell victim to their deceptive scam and lost a combined $2.3 million. However, the police believe there might be more victims.
Romance fraud network with international ties
On September 15, the Quebec provincial police arrested 12 suspects in the regions of Quebec City, Montreal, and the Outaouais. The alleged head of the network, Sogli Espoir Kouassi, and two of his accomplices, Akissi Christelle Semon and Yapo Landry N’Cho – all in their thirties – were among the arrested suspects. On Tuesday, they appeared by video conference to face charges of fraud or concealment depending on their level of involvement in the scams.
Furthermore, the investigation revealed that the network of romance fraudsters had international ties. The police in Côte d’Ivoire also announced arrests in connection with the Quebec romance scams. The operation was carried out in collaboration with Revenu Quèbec, the Canada Revenue Agency, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), and the police authorities of Côte d’Ivoire.
The police asked anyone who thinks has been a victim of this fraud to contact their local police station and advised the public to stay vigilant when it comes to online relationships especially because romance scams are the number one form of fraud committed against seniors.