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Twice-scammed Ontario grandmother jailed on drug trafficking charges | #youtubescams | #lovescams | #datingscams | #datingscams | #love | #relationships | #scams | #pof | #match.com | #dating

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An Ontario grandmother has been jailed on drug trafficking charges after being duped in an online romance scam for a second time.

Suzana Thayer, 64, made her first trip outside of Canada earlier this month to meet up with a man she had started talking to on Facebook. The man, who identified himself as James Caywood, never showed up and Thayer is currently imprisoned in Hong Kong after unwittingly transporting cocaine, according to The Canadian Press.

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Thayer met the man while writing I’ve Been Conned: A Book for Dummies, which she authored after losing more than $200,000 to a man who said he was a doctor with the United Nations in Syria. Thayer’s daughter, Angela, said her mother believed she was married to the person and sent the money through a series of online transfers. The scammer also sent Thayer a marriage certificate that was later deemed fake by the Ontario Provincial Police.

While working on her book about that experience, Thayer began receiving Facebook messages from Caywood, who claimed he was a member of the U.S. military. Thayer shared chapters of the book with Caywood and over time their messages became romantic, though Caywood never asked for money.

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Caywood later sent the Barrie, Ont.-based Thayer a plane ticket to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and supplied her with a one-month entry visa.

Angela says she attempted to stop her mother from travelling, but having never left Canada before, Thayer didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see another part of the world.

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Thayer was in Ethiopia for about two weeks before Caywood sent her another plane ticket to Hong Kong and told her to meet him there instead. Before she left, a man brought her a suitcase to her hotel and said it was a gift from Caywood. The “gift” turned out to be pieces of clothing lined with buttons that were stuffed with one kilogram of cocaine.

Angela found out what happened once Thayer called her, informing her she’d been arrested at the Hong Kong International Airport on drug trafficking charges.

“She was just going online because she was lonely,” Angela told The Canadian Press. “She was wanting to find that love that she had, that she lost, she just wanted to be with somebody again, to be happy.”

She added that her mother had only had one partner in her life, a former police officer who died in 2016 after several decades of marriage.

Angela has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help fund her mother’s case and create “awareness for online dating.”

“In addition to trying to raise funds so that my mother can afford the cost of a good lawyer to prove her innocence of this being a romance scam, I want to also educate everyone about the dangers of internet dating or simply being online,” notes a description of the campaign.

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Angela believes her mother is “1,000 per cent innocent” and did not know about the drugs.

A Hong Kong-based Catholic clergyman named John Witherspoon told The Canadian Press that he has visited Thayer several times and he’s optimistic about her release stating that the Hong Kong authorities “are not after blood at any cost.”

Global Affairs Canada is also aware of the case and is “providing consular assistance to the individual and their family.”

Angela told Newmarket Today that she believes the two scams are connected, and the same person, or people, are behind both profiles.

Earlier this year, The Canadian Antifraud Centre reported romance scams skyrocketed during the online shift caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and are also being fuelled by advancements in artificial intelligence.

In a description of her book, Thayer writes that it will help readers and their families “spot a con in time.”

“It will assist you in the awareness of what you should look out for before it’s too late,” she writes. “In reality, it becomes a domino effect that you lose all your money, lifestyle, family, dignity and self-respect.”

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