‘Protect your wallet and your heart,’ woman warns after finding romance scam links with Ontario beau


A Waterloo, Ont., man who was convicted of scamming multiple women for more than $150,000 some 15 years ago is facing fraud charges again – after one of his old flames took the investigation in hand.

In 2006, Jivesh Jagota was nicknamed Online Casanova and convicted of defrauding a dozen local women, according to the Waterloo Region Record newspaper.

The crimes followed a similar pattern: Jagota met women on the Plenty of Fish dating site and allegedly scammed them by the thousands, often posing as a lawyer, medical resident or university student, the newspaper said.

At the time, he was sentenced to three years in prison.

Today, Jagota is in legal hot water for allegedly defrauding a Woodstock woman out of $6,800 in 2015.

Woodstock police confirmed they received a fraud report in April 2016 and arrested Jagota about six years later in January 2022.

Why this long lag?

A woman named Anna, who dated Jagota between March 2019 and April 2020, says she pushed police to execute the long-standing warrant after hiring a private investigator who uncovered the outstanding charges against him. CBC News is keeping Anna’s full name confidential for security reasons.

“I want him to be responsible,” she said.

Jagota’s attorney, Nick Cake, told CBC that his client “recently became aware” of an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Jagota was “released from the station by the officer in charge after surrendering,” Cake said in an email.

“The case is actively progressing through the courts and any comment on the alleged facts would not be appropriate at this time,” Cake said in an email.

None of the latest allegations have been proven in court.

A lawyer named ‘Jay’

The Waterloo Region Record reported on the conviction of Jivesh Jagota in 2006. (Kitchener Public Library)

Anna said she too was a victim of Jagota – although she knows him as a lawyer named Jay Singh. They connected on Plenty of Fish, met for coffee and immediately hit it off, she said.

“Things moved very quickly,” Anna said. “I think he told me he probably loved me on the third date, and I believed him.”

While they were together, Anna said she gave him around $9,550, thinking he was using the money to build his law practice, prepare his house for sale and buy her an engagement ring. She thought they were building a life together, she said.

But in January 2020, Anna realized something was wrong. They never spent long weekends or vacations together. When she searched the Law Society of Ontario website, she could not find it.

In April, Anna decided to quit. She told Jay, as he called himself, not to contact her except to refund the money.

Still, she couldn’t let the situation pass.

“He wasn’t anyone to me – I had planned a life with this man,” she said.

“There was something that said, ‘You know what? There’s something more to this whole situation.'”

So Anna dug deeper. She hired a private investigator who looked up Jay’s phone number, which revealed an address and Jagota’s last name.

When she Googled it, she found an old column in the University of Waterloo student newspaper that cited the 2006 reporting from The Record.

“[It] basically described a scam that was similar to the one I had experienced,” she said.

“We were duped”

Shortly after, Anna found a profile on Plenty of Fish with a photo of her former boyfriend. But it wasn’t his profile – it was a warning to other women not to date him.

CBC spoke to three women who met the same man under different names and who they believe is Jagota, on the Plenty of Fish site.

Through this profile, she connected with other women who had all dated the same man whom they now believe to be Jagota, but who used various identities. Two of them told CBC they met him on Plenty of Fish when he used the name Robert Rhio Singh.

Together, the women’s group hired a second private investigator, who uncovered the outstanding Woodstock warrant for the alleged 2015 fraud. Using social media, the women managed to determine where Jagota lived and reported him to police in Hamilton – where he was staying – and Woodstock, Anna said.

Asked about the situation, a Hamilton police spokesperson confirmed that Woodstock investigators had requested the department’s assistance with an outstanding warrant. They executed the warrant on January 5, 2022, the spokesperson said.

Ongoing civil action

Today, Anna got back some of the money she says she gave Jagota, but is suing to collect the rest he owes her.

His statement, filed on April 9, 2021, says that after their breakup, Jagota sent Anna six money orders totaling $4,098, but she still owes him $5,473, plus bank withdrawal fees. She is also claiming damages.

In a statement of defense, Jagota said he only accepted a $5,500 loan from Anna, which he has since repaid in full. The statement acknowledges that Jagota and Anna met online and that he used the name Jay Singh, but that was for “the profession[al] privacy concerns.”

The defense statement also says Jagota and Anna’s relationship was short-lived “with no substantial long-term expectations on either side.”

CBC KW has reached out to Joseph Kazubek, who is representing Jagota in the civil case involving Anna, for comment. He told CBC in an email that their position was that Anna’s accusation was “inaccurate and baseless”, but declined to comment further at this time.

Romance scams on the rise

Anna, whose name has not been released for security reasons, says she was the victim of a romance scam after meeting a man on Plenty of Fish. (name omitted)

Romance scams are not uncommon, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Between 2019 and 2021, the number of dollars lost to romance scams in Canada more than doubled, from nearly $26.2 million to $64.6 million. This year is on track to be even worse, with $17.8 million lost to romance scams in the first quarter.

Spokesman Jeff Horncastle said these scams have always existed, but the internet has allowed them to thrive. He said many scams happen without any face-to-face meetings, based on “virtual” friendships.

“I think COVID also played a big role, where people may have been looking for more companionship online,” said Horncastle, the center’s acting communications and customer outreach manager.

It’s much easier to stop a scam from happening in the first place than to get your money back after the fact, he said. During a meeting, he said:

  • Do not share personal images online.
  • Don’t give money or invest money with someone you’ve never met.
  • Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
  • Be careful who you share your images with, especially intimate photos.

As for Anna, she thinks dating sites need to have better checks and balances. She also warns women to seek out anyone they meet online, even after meeting in person.

Consider looking at their driver’s license and calling their work to make sure they’re really employed there, she said.

“It sounds harsh, but unfortunately people can go online [and] pretend to be whoever you want them to be,” she said.

“Just be vigilant and stay safe, and protect your wallet and your heart.”

Outdoors15:37Woman who says her new flame turned out to be a fraud on a mission to help others avoid romance scams

Andrea Speranza was enjoying a new relationship with a man who seemed to share her values ​​of helping children and giving back to the community. But after she lent him money for medicine and an emergency trip… she says he ghosted her. Andrea tells Piya how it led her to uncover her past cheating trail, and what she is doing to heal personally and help others avoid finding themselves in a similar situation.