03/15/2013 03:13 EDT | Updated 05/15/2013 05:12 EDT

Woman says online dating scam cost her $42K

Canadians lost millions of dollars last year through online dating scams, and Quebecers were no exception.

Daniel Williams, a supervisor with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, said more than 140 Quebecers have reported online dating fraud since Jan. 1, 2013.

One Laval resident who spoke with CBC’s Thomas Daigle, said she lost tens of thousands of dollars when she was defrauded by a person she met through the dating website Lavalife.

“I feel like I did something very stupid and I was cheated,” she said.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said she thought she had found her match when day after day, the man sent her letters and pictures, claiming to be a U.S. soldier deployed overseas.

“Everything looked very normal, you know. He told you stories, little by little, he told me he had investments and also he told me he adopted a son.”

But then her online sweetheart started asking for money to help his son pay for bills. In the end, the Laval woman estimates she sent him around $42,000.

She is only one of many who have been caught in similar scams.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre estimates Canadians lost at least $17 million to online dating scams in 2012.

"There are an awful lot of criminal gangs out there that go on these sites,” Williams said.

“They are true vultures, preying on vulnerable people."

Only between 1 and 5 per cent of fraud cases are reported to authorities, according to Williams. He said anyone who believes they have been defrauded is advised to contact police to help prevent future cases.