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She has found that there are many misconceptions and stereotypes about who romance fraud victims and warns that anyone can fall victim to these schemes, regardless of their socioeconomic status.
“Some of these victims are doctors, engineers, lawyers, business women, teachers and I think any one of us with the right kinds of persuasion, persuasive strategies utilized against us could be a victim,” she told W5 in an interview.
“What are the things that make you tick, your kind of emotional passwords to your heart,” said Polowek.
“I’m sure they keep detailed notes of the victims responses and they craft themselves into that ideal person.” An ideal persona online that lowers victims defences and makes them vulnerable to send thousands of dollars to a fictitious character – someone they’ve never met.
She has the unfortunate distinction of reporting to the Anti-Fraud Centre the largest amount of money lost to a romance scam in Canada.
Ellen told W5 that she met a man named Dave Field online through
One of the techniques Polowek has identified is something she calls “love bombing” where victims are smothered with displays of affection, charm and flattery.
And the scammers carefully tailor their e-mails to play to the victims’ values and interests.
Marc e-mailed Rosanna that he was getting help from the American consulate but, regardless, she offered to send money so that he could get by in the meantime.
Although they never met in person, Rosanna and Marc e-mailed and spoke on the phone for months.
Marc said he was planning to move to Hamilton, Ontario from Florida and he wanted Rosanna to be part of his new life in Canada.
It’s a lesson Rosanna and Ellen learned the hard way.
“It’s easy to fall into the trap it really is” said Rosanna.