Social media scam bilks Nanaimo woman of $125,000

NANAIMO – Woman loses money to man she thought was her Facebook friend.

A Nanaimo woman lost $125,000 when she was scammed by a man she met on Facebook.

Police said the victim, in her 70s, met the suspect after accepting a friend request on Facebook and over several months developed what she believed was a close friendship.

The suspect said his name was Tom Brown, that he was an engineer from the United Kingdom who had a 10-year-old daughter, but was working for an oil company in Africa.

Brown needed money to fix equipment for his work and also asked for money for a medical emergency after claiming he was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident. A “friend” of the suspect even contacted the victim to say Brown had slipped into a coma caused by the accident and sent a picture of Brown in a hospital bed. Investigators determined a different head had been photo shopped onto the person lying in the bed.

The victim finally broke off contact with Brown and called the RCMP after she was called by someone claiming to work with Interpol who told her Brown was under investigation for fraud, but she would have to pay $5,000 the for the investigation to continue.

Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said the case had all the earmarks of a scam.

“Our investigators will attempt to identify the suspect but it is an arduous process and at the end of the day may not result in criminal charges,” O’Brien said.

For more information on fraud, scams and online security, please visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.

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