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'We were embarrassed. We felt shame': Lakeshore family duped out of $170K in a romance scam


A Lakeshore family says they were duped out of $170,000 in a romance scam and they don’t want it to happen to anyone else.

Karen Tavolieri is sharing her story now after learning a second family from Essex County has been victimized.

Tavolieri’s story starts in 2020, when her daughter started dating a new man.

“We fell in love with this guy. We thought he was great. He was good to our grandson. And so it was like (he was) part of the family,” Tavolieri told CTV News Friday.

Within less than a year, Tavolieri says the man asked for small amounts of money.

“And then it was he was sick and needed to go to the (United) States to get treatments. And so we just thought if we can help him, why not?” said Tavolieri. “It was something that we just felt that it was legit.”

When the agreed-upon date to repay the loan came and went and they couldn’t get a hold of the man, he sent them an email to tell them it was all a scam.

He took $170,000 from the Tavolieri’s.

“My husband had worked his whole life to make sure that everything was set when he retired and now all of a sudden we have this huge amount of money that's been taken from us and it was devastating,” said Tavolieri. “We were embarrassed, we felt shame.”

Within a day of learning the truth, Tavolieri says they swallowed their pride and reported the crime to Essex County OPP.

They investigated and have now laid charges.

CTV News has chosen to not include the suspects’ name as the matter is now before the courts and none of the allegations have been proven.

It wasn’t until this past January that Tavolieri decided she needed to speak publicly about their private struggle, “when someone else got scammed.”

On January 25, Essex County OPP laid seven fraud charges against the same man Tavolieri says scammed them.

“You have no idea what it feels like to have someone who you really put all your trust and faith (in) and love in to have them turn around and it was, you were a nothing. You were just there to take your money and it hurt,” said Tavolieri.

This latest development is also motivating her to create a support group for victims of romance scams.

“There's none in Ontario or Canada that we're aware of,” said Tavolieri. “The more I talk to people, the more I realize how much it is happening out there.”

Tavolieri would like to take her efforts one step further by creating a charity which can offer victims money to help with day-to-day necessities after they’re defrauded and to help victims fight for restitution in the court system.

“I really want to make some changes in this world,” said Tavolieri. “They can't keep doing it the way they're doing it. Something has to change.”

If you have fallen victim to a romance scam, email to talk to someone who understands how you feel.

“We can find new visions in our head and help us to cope, and that's my mission.” Top Stories

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