Relationship Fraud Litigation
At Investigation Counsel, we have coined a term for frauds perpetrated in the relationship context as ‘Relationship Frauds’. We are not the first to have dealt with this phenomenon. There is an American organization, LoveFraud, which has been operating for some time by providing assistance to victims of relationship frauds.
One such relationship fraud case our firm has handled was on behalf of a man who was confined to a wheelchair due to the effects of cerebral palsy since birth. Based on his disability, he turned to escorts to obtain female accompaniment. Over time, one such escort came to learn that the disabled man was the beneficiary of an inheritance. She advised him that she came from an abusive past and wanted to leave the escort industry. She further advised him that she saw his inner beauty and could see past his disability. Notwithstanding that he had a master’s degree and was highly intelligent, her charms were so convincing that he believed that she was single, in love with him, carrying his baby, and wanting to marry him.
Based on her representations, he agreed to her requests for them to set up a dream life in the Dominican Republic. During a period of approximately 11 months, he wired and otherwise provided her with more than $800,000. On Christmas Day, just a few days before their impending wedding day, he received a communication from the escort’s ‘sister’, advising that she had died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. It was later learned that her alleged death was a sham, as were almost all of her representations. In fact, during the time of their ‘relationship’ she was married to a Jamaican drug dealer, and the disabled man’s money had been used by the escort and her drug dealer boyfriend to pay for their own wedding, and to purchase ocean front property in Jamaica.
Simultaneous civil and criminal prosecutions ensued. Examinations of the escort in the civil case took place prior to the criminal pre-trial. As is often the case, the Crown sought to cut a deal with the fraudster to avoid a trial, and offered the fraudster-escort a two year prison sentence in exchange for a withdrawal of the charge against the co-conspirator Jamaican drug dealer. In his quest for justice, our client asked us to bring a motion for an order to have the evidence from the civil proceeding turned over to the Crown. The Court granted the Order and we convinced the Crown that their deal with the escort was far too lenient. The Crown withdrew their plea offer and the matter went to a criminal jury trial. A jury convicted the escort and she received a 4 ½ year prison sentence. A warrant remains outstanding for her Jamaican drug dealer husband. A civil judgment was also granted by the Court, but only a nominal recovery was made, as the cost of recovery through the Jamaican legal system was prohibitive in the circumstances.
Another relationship fraud our firm has handled was on behalf of a female firefighter who had an affair with a one of her male firefighter co-workers. Unbeknownst to her, he had a gambling addiction and was desperate for money. He created a scheme that he referred to as a ‘pay-day loan program’ wherein ‘investors’ could provide him money for a quick profit. Other firefighters were also conned into the deal. Like most Ponzi schemes, the investment unravelled when new investors could not be induced. Civil and criminal proceedings ensued. Examination of the fraudster and summary judgment were obtained prior to his criminal trial. In an effort to avoid a prison sentence, the fraudster firefighter resigned from the fire department and we obtained full recovery of the lost money, together with costs, out of his pension plan. Not all recoveries in relationship fraud cases are successful, but this one was.
Internet Relationship Fraud
The anonymity of Internet dating and phone dating services has also led to fraud. We have commenced litigation on behalf of a gentleman with a Ph.D. who fell for the lure of a woman he met through a telephone dating service advertised on television. She posed as a Bollywood starlet who was down on her luck and between projects and who required cash for various medical and legal expenses. She further alleged that she lived abroad and could not meet with him. After losing approximately $75,000, he made inquiries to check out her story. He came across a blog of at least ten other men who had fallen to her scam. He further investigated her and discovered that she is a 300 lb Caucasian high school dropout residing in Ottawa.
We commenced civil litigation on his behalf and examined her through the civil discovery process. She admitted to creating a false website persona with the assistance of an friend whose name she claimed she could no longer remember. Upon bringing a summary judgment motion and a motion for an order to turn over the evidence from the civil proceeding to the police, she fled the country. Our client insists on moving his action forward, not out of anticipation of recovery, but as a form of private therapy to heal himself from her breach of trust, as a form of retribution, and because of his private interest to protect others from her scheme.
At Investigation Counsel, we are familiar with investigating and litigating many forms of relationship frauds, and we welcome you to contact us to discuss an investigation, retribution, and recovery plan.
If you suspect you have been a victim of relationship fraud and would like to discuss a recovery plan please fill out the form below: