Dating-scam victim speaks out – Victoria Times Colonist | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

A Langford woman says she was shocked to discover a man she thought was just a bad boyfriend has been charged with using dating apps to con victims out of money.

The day after a first date with a man she’d been chatting to online for a few weeks, a Langford woman wrote an entry in her journal titled “Red flags.”

In it, she wrote about times when he had contradicted himself or his story just didn’t sit right. Like the time she asked him why it seemed like he was never working. He had gotten lucky with an investment and didn’t need to work, he told her.

But at another point, he said he was an agent for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, kicking down the doors of drug traffickers, smugglers and human traffickers. “When are you kicking down these doors?” she wondered. His days seemed to be filled with walks and going to the gym.

He was on stress leave from the job, he told her.

The Times Colonist is not ­naming the woman to protect her privacy.

Another time, he sent her a couple of photos of his day, but one photo showed a tattoo that he didn’t have in the other. He admitted that the photo without the tattoo was older, but said he sent it because he thought he looked good. He had an answer for everything, she said.

“Maybe I’m just being crazy,” she wrote in the journal entry.

Looking at her words now makes her furious. “You literally wrote it down and you still ignored your gut,” she said.

The two met in early May 2022 through Facebook’s dating function. She was new to the area, having moved to Langford from out of province during the pandemic about a year earlier. They connected over a shared love of hockey and playful banter about the rival teams they supported.

She found him sweet, funny and attentive, despite her misgivings.

“He seemed to be genuine and he seemed to be put together and, you know, independent and stuff like that. He had a Tesla, he lived in an apartment, he apparently was flush with cash,” she said.

On their first date a couple of weeks after meeting online, they drove to beaches in Langford and talked about life, music and sports. She met his dog and saw his apartment. They were physically intimate, which haunts her knowing what she knows now.

The day after the date, he told her he wanted to have a committed relationship with her and that he had deleted his dating apps.

It wasn’t long after that that the first request for money came. He said he had lost his wallet and had to get a new driver’s licence to replace his debit card,. He just needed $35, he said.

She thought that seemed innocent enough. But then he told her he had a $250 ticket that he needed to pay before he could receive a replacement licence.

“Well, shit, I gave him 35 for the licence, I guess I can’t not pay for the ticket. You know? Who would do that? That’s mean, that’s rude,” she thought.

She had been raised by her grandparents to have a big heart and believe the best in people. She wanted to take care of the people important to her.

And he promised to pay her back as soon as he replaced all his cards. Then he told her he had issues accessing his bank account. He’d been locked out. Still, he promised he would pay her back as soon as he could. He just needed his new bank card to come in the mail.

The requests for money continued. He needed about $800 to cover his rent or he could be evicted, he said. He was short roughly $1,500 on his car payments. She resisted, but in the end, he persuaded her to send the money.

“He had a knack for turning a no into a yes,” she said.

She said she was in a vulnerable place when she met him. New to the Island, she didn’t know many people, and her grandfather, who had been like a father to her, had just died. She felt depressed and a little bit lonely.

“It was literally like the perfect storm for someone to come in and make me feel special,” she said.

She had also just come into an inheritance, so she was able to be more generous, although she didn’t explicitly mention the inheritance to him.

In all, she says, she sent him about $10,000, and paid for everything they did together. He repaid about $150.

After they’d been dating for a couple of months, however, something in her snapped, she said. She was visiting her hometown and had a falling out with a friend over a birthday gift. The conflict led her to believe she deserved to be treated better — by the friend, and by her boyfriend.

She returned to Langford and ended the relationship. She was angry but she dismissed it as a bad relationship and tried to move on. She reconnected with an old friend and started a new relationship.

Months later, in the fall, she got a call from police, who told her they had been investigating her ex-boyfriend for years, looking into allegations he was involved in a romance scam.

The news hit her hard. She already blamed herself for losing so much money to a bad boyfriend. But finding out that what she thought was a relationship was just a scam “broke me as a person,” she said.

She has spent the past year blaming and hating herself. She stopped writing in her journal because everything she wrote was negative. She tried to push her current boyfriend away, convinced he would only hurt her.

“I don’t know how I’ll come back from this. He literally just violated me physically, financially, emotionally, and every aspect that a person can be, you know? That’s what makes it hard for me to not think it’s my fault.”

Brodie Lyle Brooks, 29, was charged by Saanich police in June with 16 charges related to allegations he used dating apps to swindle nearly $200,000 over three years. The charges involve 16 individuals but police say they believe more than 30 people were directly affected.

He faces charges of fraud both over and under $5,000, false pretence and personating a peace officer related to offences that stretch from September 2019 to June 2022 in Langford, Victoria and Saanich.

Brooks was released on bail on June 19 and has a court appearance on July 24 to set a date for a hearing. Saanich police said he was released on several conditions, including that he is prohibited from using online dating apps and from entering into any private loan agreement.

The woman said she was relieved to hear about the charges. She wanted to share her story to show others the warning signs of a romance scammer “and maybe save them from it.”

The experience changed her, she says. She is now unwilling to accept behaviour that doesn’t meet her standards after what she’s been through.

“I wish I was that person at the beginning, because then none of it would have happened,” she said.

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