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Alan Binder
Alan Binder
"Alcohol scholar. Twitter lover. Zombieaholic. Hipster-friendly coffee fanatic."

With no real possibility of arresting a suspect abroad, Quebec police forces rarely investigate love scams. But the notable exception is the Sûreté du Québec’s spam project that led to the arrest last year of three suspects, in Quebec, who are believed to be involved in Gisele’s fraud.

Espoir Kouassi, 38, according to police theory, is the alleged head of a network of fraudsters operating simultaneously in Quebec and Côte d’Ivoire. He is currently charged with fraud, as are his wife Christelle Simon and one of his friends, Landry N’Cho.

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Espoir Couassi could have succeeded in defrauding dozens of Quebecers through a network of fraudsters.Photo: Facebook

We reviewed court documents to learn more.

An investigation began in 2019 by two women from the Lanaudière region who, like Gisèle, fell in love with false profiles on the Internet.

They mailed tens of thousands of dollars to an address provided by their fraudster, an apartment in Levis. Then SQ organized a controlled delivery of the funds to the said address to see who was receiving the funds. An hour later, the police searched the apartment and arrested the occupants, Espoir Kouassi and his wife.

Investigators found in their electronic devices items that enabled them to link them to about fifty victims, most of them in Quebec. The men and women who sent an average of $50,000, for alleged fraud totaling $2.3 million.

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The Quebec Network killed about thirty victims in the province between 2014-2020.Photo: Radio Canada

According to the police theory, Espoir Kouassi had accomplices in Côte d’Ivoire who held talks with the victims, while he was in charge of distributing the money. To this end, Kouassi would have used dozens of Ivorian citizens in Canada who were unaware that this money was a love affair and who agreed to conduct the transactions.

In Côte d’Ivoire, our collaborator interviewed one of Espoir Kouassi’s alleged partners, Jean-Marcel Ellon. He claimed that he only works in the car trade with Kwasi. But SQ links him to at least 12 Quebec victims, including an 84-year-old who he would recommend killing her husband to collect life insurance.

Jean-Marcel Elon asserted that even if SQ transferred its investigation to the Ivorian police, none of the alleged accomplices of Kwasi in Africa had been charged or even questioned.

Espoir Kouassi, Christelle Semon and Landry N’Cho will be under preliminary investigation in January in Quebec and have not responded to our interview requests.

Among the alleged victims of a trio of love scams… is a 75-year-old woman we know: Giselle, Sylvain Duguay’s mother. The police found credit cards in Giselle’s name in Espoir Kouassi’s wallet while searching.

I love you so much my love

At the end of our journalistic investigation, Gisele, Sylvain Dugway’s mother, finally agreed to meet with us. Presentations take place in a donut shop, about two cups of coffee in cardboard cups. The conversation quickly becomes intimate. After months of hearing about Gisele, the 75-year-old is finally the one to tell her story. The subject becomes a person.

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Gisele sometimes interrupts her thoughts with texts from her impostor. Yes, the fake Jean Pierre He always communicates with her. You will recognize his voice among the thousand. Looks like I still need to talk to him. I do not know why. Not because I love her the way I loved her before. It’s like I’m not able to let go of itGiselle explains.

She tells how she fell in love after a 37-year relationship, in a great moment of loneliness. I was really taken with him, it was like infinity, I even forgot my friends, I even forgot my family.

The fake Jean-Pierre took control of her life and isolated her from those close to him. Until I managed to convince her that they are against her happiness.

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Let the victim think that the lover will join her.Photo: Radio Canada

Gisele promises to come see her. He summons a succession of misfortunes and misfortunes for her to send money to him. I was so naive that I sent him the money. I had to borrow from my brother-in-law, from my family, so they could lend me money.

Gisele liquidated her RRSP and her savings and gave her more than $75,000 over seven years of fraud. I didn’t have the money to buy a lot of food so all I could eat was soup. When Gisele could no longer send money, her fake lover, who was too real for her, cut off her contacts. Then she fell into dire straits.

When you find the courage to ignore him, and block him on his social networks, he returns with a new identity with a hacked message: It’s me, you know me, JP. Giselle admits that she is helpless. As soon as I hear from him, I have to go see him.

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Throughout the day we spend with her, we witness her scammer attempts to convince Gisele to go open a bank account and send her prepaid credit cards. She plays the game to show us how, with Dear Based on I love youtrying to manipulate it.

Giselle now knows that Jean-Pierre does not exist. We ask him what the crooks stole from him. My pride and self esteemYou answer honestly.

Our investigation of romantic fraud leaves us with several questions. Among them, one stands out: How many other Giselles are in our vicinity? Men and women who suffer in silence to rob their hard-earned money, of their self-respect, in exchange for a promise of love, however false.

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