It all started when Imani-Thenaï Kinzanza’s mother sent her a link to what they thought was a legitimate news article.
“I was skeptical at first,” said the 33-year-old single mother of two from Laval, Que.
“But I saw CBC/Radio-Canada written on it and the photo of Justin Trudeau.”
The article talked about how the Prime Minister of Canada supposedly made money through investments. At the bottom of the article was a registration link that took her to another page to register.
So, Kinzanza decided to give it a try.
He filled out a form, received a phone call, and found himself on the line with a sweet talker who identified himself as Ron Wagner from a company called Profitrop.
Kinzanza started small, just a few hundred dollars. Then the computer software provided by Wagner and his team showed that their investment was paying off.
“It was going up, and up, and up,” he said. “I was like, ‘This is working. This is really working.'”
From supposed gains to losing everything
He asked Wagner if he could withdraw some of that money, and after going through a few hoops, $10 showed up in his bank account.
He told Wagner that he did not want to invest any more. She and her mother set a limit of $250.
So the company allegedly gave her a $5,000 loan, and she watched her earnings skyrocket and then plummet.
Meanwhile, Wagner was expressing more than just a financial interest in Kinzanza. He told her that he was “putting her heart” into her file and she sensed that a romantic relationship was blossoming.
“We really developed something. We always talked on the phone,” he said.
They pressured her to invest more so she wouldn’t lose more, but in order to move forward, she had to repay that $5,000 loan first.
She found herself on the phone with another charmer who promised to help her because of her relationship with Wagner.
It went on and on, from March to May of this year. She handed over tens of thousands of dollars, a combination of her savings and her loans, as shown in bank statements seen by Breaking:.
Every time I sent money, the representatives always had a new excuse for me to send more, whether it was taxes or bank transfers that supposedly failed.
She tried to walk away. Her bank would not reimburse her. Her finances were in shambles. Weeks passed.
Then she ended up on the phone with someone new: an unknown person who called and asked for someone else. That supposed wrong number turned into a long conversation.
She told her story and the caller offered to help.
Over $100K in debt
Desperate enough to trust the new caller, Kinzanza ended up sending money to a company called LTG GoldRock in the hope that it could pay off her loans. But she lost everything.
“I went from having no debt to over $100,000,” he said, realizing with hindsight that both companies were likely part of the same scam.
Now she is speaking out, trying to alert others to these types of online scams.
“It’s never the victim’s fault. These scammers are professionals,” said Akim Laniel-Lanani, co-founder of Clinique de Cyber-Criminologie, a Montreal nonprofit that provides support services to victims of cybercrime.
He said that these types of scammers are expert manipulators and know what they are doing.
“They will use fear. They will use your ambition against you and your desire to make money and add a sense of urgency on top of that,” she said. “And you lose everything.”
Avoid recovery scams, warns the Anti-Fraud Center
Searching for LTG GoldRock online shows many victim stories. And a quick search for Profitrop reveals suspicious Google ads promising to recover funds lost to the Profitrop scam.
He Canadian Anti-Fraud Center warns people to avoid payback scams, where previous victims are being targeted with the promise of returning their lost money, as Kinzanza was.
The center says there were more than 21,000 victims of fraud in Canada in the first half of 2023.
Breaking: says in a statement that it is aware of an increase in false ads and news stories claiming to be from or endorsed by the CBC or CBC employees appearing on social media platforms and websites, including CBC websites and apps. .
“We are working to curb this alarming trend and remove any false or inappropriate posts from CBC platforms, as well as other social spaces. And you can help us too,” the statement said.
For more information on how to report inappropriate CBC-related ads on one of the CBC platforms, or any suspicious ads on the CBC platforms, Click here.