In 2004, I met someone online and thought she was the woman of my dreams. I have cerebral palsy and finding love has never been easy for me. More than anything, I wanted to get married and have a loving family.
The woman, an escort named Darquise, gained my trust and convinced me that she really loved me.
She targeted me because I was vulnerable and had recently lost a loved one. I thought the romance was real and I didn’t see the warning signs. In early 2006, Darquise expressed to me that she wanted to leave the escort business and start a more long-term relationship.
Shortly thereafter, she presented me with multiple investment ventures in the Dominican Republic, on the pretence that this would be a way to start a life together. She also informed me that she was pregnant and used this supposed pregnancy as a negotiation tool when trying to obtain more money from me. Darquise later informed me that she had suffered a miscarriage.
Then in December of 2006, Darquise faked her own death to prevent me from travelling to the Dominican Republic. I was devastated when I was informed of her death and turned to my friends for support. They helped me realize I had fallen victim to an elaborate romance scam to the tune of more than $800,000. I decided to submit evidence of the fraud to the police and learned that
Darquise had fled the country to Jamaica with her husband – she had been married throughout our entire ‘relationship’. She returned to Canada several months later and was arrested. Four years later, Darquise was convicted of a number of fraud-related charges. As a result, she was sentenced to 4 years in prison for what the judge called a sophisticated fraud and ordered her to pay restitution totalling $847,000 to me.
The Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime was there for me during the criminal trial, when I had to give evidence and read my victim impact statement in court. They have helped me to be physically present at Darquise’s parole hearing in order to have a voice and helped me communicate with the corrections and parole authorities.
The CRCVC has also tried to help me collect the restitution the offender owes me. This has been almost impossible. As the victim, I have had to pay for forensic accountants and lawyers to try to trace the money she stole. While my overall debt has now risen to more than $1.4 million dollars, I have yet to recover even a small fraction of what is owed to me.
The offender is free after completing her sentence and only has to re-pay 20% of her earnings per month to me, if and when, she is actually working. The province of Ontario does not assist in any way, and have told me (and other fraud victims) it is my responsibility to try to collect what he is owed.
I am grateful CRCVC continues to advocate for victims of fraud, who should have government assistance to enforce restitution orders.