All About Estates

Senior Man Falls Victim to Online Romance Scam

Romance scams are among the top reported scams based on total dollar loss, and seniors are particularly susceptible to these types of scams. Unfortunately, the late Robert Hogg fell victim to a romance scam, which was not discovered until after his death.

The facts can be found in the CBC News article, but essentially the story goes as follows:

Mr. Hogg, a widow in his mid-60’s who was diagnosed with cancer, decided to join an online dating site. That is how he met a woman, known as “Sophia Goldstein”, who turned out to be a scam artist.  Not having ever met in person, Mr. Hogg and “Sophia Goldstein” formed their relationship exclusively online.  Within just one month, “Sophia Goldstein” began asking Mr. Hogg to transfer her money, as she was having difficulty accessing her own funds while she was in Australia for business.  He was instructed to wire the money to “friends” in Malaysia, as she claimed that would be the easiest way for her to get the money in Australia.  He was even coached on what to tell the TD bank employees and how to respond to their detailed queries about the purpose of the transfers.  He told a consistent story, so despite never before having transferred money offshore, the bank did not have any suspicions about the transfers.

Over an 8-month period, Mr. Hogg made 19 wire transfers to Malaysia, totalling in excess of $732,000, which completely wiped out his entire life savings.

It wasn’t until after Mr. Hogg passed away last year that his family discovered what had transpired. Investigations are ongoing, but the police are not confident they will be able to track down fraudsters in Malaysia.

The reality is that seniors are especially vulnerable to these types of fraudulent scams. Perhaps there ought to be more questions asked where there are red flags present, such as unusual transactions, in order to protect the elderly.  However, striking the right balance between protecting the rights of its customers and preventing fraudulent scams is not so simple from the bank’s perspective.

About Brittany Sud
Brittany Sud is a member of the Trust, Wills, Estates and Charities Group at Fasken, Toronto office. Brittany is developing a broad estates and trusts practice with a focus on planning and administration matters. As part of her practice, Brittany assists high net worth clients, entrepreneurs and professionals with Wills, powers of attorney, domestic contracts and trusts. She has experience developing and implementing cohesive estate plans that reflect the financial objectives and short and long-term goals of clients, including advising on probate planning, family business succession planning, asset protection strategies and disability planning. Brittany’s estate administration practice includes preparing applications for probate and administering the Canadian estates of non-residents. Outside of the office, Brittany enjoys playing softball and tennis, travelling and cooking. She is a dedicated volunteer of the United Jewish Appeal, Jewish National Fund, One Family Fund and Baycrest Foundation. Community Involvement • Host, Baycrest Foundation - Game Night for Baycrest, 2015 • Chair, Pitch for Israel Softball Tournament, 2014-2016 • Vice-Chair, United Jewish Appeal Young Lawyers Leadership Campaign Canvassing Team, 2016 Memberships and Affiliations • Member, Canadian Bar Association • Member, Ontario Bar Association - Trusts and Estates Law Section • Member, Ontario Bar Association - Young Lawyers’ Division • Student Member, Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners (STEP) Canada

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