An Edmonton man says he sent $143,000 to a fraudster after he was targeted in a romance scam that lasted more than a year.

According to Con, he was contacted by a woman who claimed to have seen his online dating profile. She told him she was a United States citizen, working overseas as a computer civil engineer and a single mom with a 9-year-old son.

Con talked to the woman for months before she told him the camera on her phone was broken and she asked him for $600 to fix it. Con initially said no, and the woman stopped contacting him. Several months later, they started talking again. He agreed to give her $100 towards a new phone. She said it wasn’t enough, and the conversations stopped.

Nearly a year later, Con says the woman asked him if he still loved her. They continued to talk for a few weeks, before she told him she was laid off and needed $1,500 to get back to the U.S. The next day, ticket prices went up, and Con says he paid the difference.

Shortly after, the woman told Con her son had been diagnosed with malaria and they had been in a car crash. She sent copies of X-rays, and told him she had money in the U.S. to pay him back. She even sent copies of her bank accounts in the U.S.

By the time Edmonton police got involved, they say Con had sent $143,000.

Con said he was just looking for someone to spend his life with.

“Hope that it would be real. Having her and her kid. Money isn’t important. This is; having someone else in the house besides me.”

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking that these scammers are taking someone’s desire for happiness and using it against them,” Detective Linda Herczeg stated. “They commit all of their time into these scams because it’s their job and it’s lucrative.”

Police say there are a number of signs that an online user is a scammer, including requests for money, they profess their love early in the relationship and groom you for months or weeks before asking for anything, they are always available because it’s usually a group of individuals, they use stolen images for a profile picture, they will rarely have a voice or video conversation with you, and they always find a reason for you to send them more money.

You can find more information about online scams on the Edmonton police website.

If you believe you are a victim of a fraud, call the Edmonton police at 780-423-4567 or #377 on a cell phone.