Victim of alleged romance fraud claims she lost $200K
Published Monday, March 12, 2018 6:54PM PDT
A Metro Vancouver woman is sharing her story of the financial and emotional devastation she says she suffered after her former romantic partner allegedly took her for more than $200,000.
Last week, Mounties in Coquitlam announced fraud and theft charges had been laid against 37-year-old Reza Moeinian, whom they accused of engineering romantic relationships to defraud people he met through dating sites.
The woman says she recognized Moeinian’s photo on television, though when she met him on an online dating site in the summer of 2015, he told her his name was "Tony Aquilini.”
She says the first time they met for coffee in person, “Tony” showered her with compliments and told her he came from a wealthy family.
"All women dream," said the accuser, who CTV News agreed to refer to under the pseudonym “Amanda,” to protect her identity. "The prince rides in on the white horse to sweep you off your feet.”
Amanda said she would see the man she knew as “Tony” about twice a month, and he would send text messages, almost all day, every day, and gave her cards for Christmas, Valentine's Day and her birthday.
In January 2016, Amanda says “Tony” began to push her to sign up for several cash-back credit cards, saying that her current cards didn’t provide enough benefits.
Eventually, he convinced her to apply for 20 different cards, Amanda says, and she was approved for 13.
But everything changed she says one day in the spring when “Tony” came to her with a proposal to loan money to a friend, for a $30,000 return.
“He made some reference to something about taxes,” she said.
Amanda showed CTV News more than a dozen receipts from cash advances on her credit cards. She said “Tony” drove her to bank after bank, waiting in the car while she went to the teller.
“He had me drain those credit cards in a 2 to 3 day period.” But neither he, nor anyone else, Amanda says, ever paid her back.
"I was looking at my online banking and I found a cheque that had been returned—funds frozen—which was one of the payments he'd made on a line of credit," Amanda said. "I actually saw a physical image of the cheque and it had a totally different name on it and it was then I realized I'd been had."
Amanda said her bill at that point topped $243,000, and she was forced to declare bankruptcy, eventually losing her townhouse because she couldn’t make payments.
“I feel devastated,” she said. “I feel like my life’s over. How could I be so stupid?”
Amanda says she reported “Tony” to the RCMP in 2016, but was told earlier this year the file had been closed and no charges would be laid.
"Honestly, my gut told me early on this isn't right, and I ignored it," she said. "It makes me sick. I blame myself a lot.”
But when she saw Moenian’s picture, which she identified as “Tony,” in the news last week, it gave her renewed hope.
Court records show Moeinian now faces more than two dozen charges, which include fraud, theft and possession of property obtained by crime, all relating to other victims. Records show Moeinian remains in custody with a bail hearing scheduled for next month.
None of the charges have been proven in court.
Meanwhile, Amanda is hoping she too will have her day before a judge or jury.
"He can take my money," she said. "He can't take my pride and he can't take my strength. He will not win. I will not let him take that from me."
The RCMP says anyone who may have been a victim of romance fraud, especially in Anmore, Belcarra, Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam, should contact investigators.
When asked about Amanda’s case, Surrey RCMP told CTV News they were “liasing” with Coquitlam RCMP “with regard to this investigation.”
With files from CTV Vancouver's David Molko