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Scam targets online daters
Published Monday, December 10, 2012 5:42PM MST
Last Updated Monday, December 10, 2012 6:27PM MST
A Calgary woman was swindled out of thousands of dollars after she was duped by an online suitor.
Kimberley Holowka is on the brink of financial ruin all because she went looking for love online.
She met a man who claimed to be a contract engineer from North Carolina.
They talked and emailed for several hours a day and Holowka thought she was in love.
The couple even discussed marriage and then he told her he had to go to Kuala Lumpur for a job.
That's when his first money problem came up. He told Holowka he was $1000 short for a piece of equipment and asked her for a loan.
After that, it was one crisis after another. His bank account was frozen, he owed taxes to the Malaysian government, he had a car accident and needed surgery.
“It's embarrassing the tactics that he used to draw me in and make me feel like there was something happening,” said Holowka.
Six months into the relationship and Holowka had already wired him more than $100,000 and borrowed against her lines of credit and credit cards.
Then she read an article about romance scams and the story seemed all too familiar.
She is now telling her story to get the word out because she knows most victims keep the details to themselves.
"I sometimes look back at myself and even I’m confused how all this happened,” said Holowka.
Cyber crime specialist Kathleen MacDonald agrees and says the internet is a boon for romance scams.
MacDonald says it's critical that victims talk to someone they trust before wiring money to these strangers.
“Just get an objective opinion about it because sometimes when we're personally involved in these situations, it's hard to step back and say no, this is suspicious, this doesn't make sense,” said MacDonald.
Most dating websites don’t guarantee the legitimacy of the profiles and state they have no liability for anything that happens as a result of meeting someone online.