In an article for Chantelaine, Courtney Shea explores a dating hazard that, before the advent of Dirty John,  many did not associate with romance — financial scammers, a step beyond normal catfishing. It’s a problem that is on the rise, so much so that “weeding out scammers is just another reality of dating these days, right up there with fielding dick pics.” Figures show that women over the age of forty are particularly susceptible to these scam artists. 

“Invisible woman syndrome” describes the phenomenon wherein women are ignored after they reach a certain age—by potential employers, by suitors, by bartenders. No longer imbued with youth or fertility or (as Amy Schumer would say) “f-ckability,” we have ceased to serve our biological purpose and are deemed less valuable. And then along comes a person who sees you and appreciates you and promises to make all of your dreams come true. Who wouldn’t want to believe in that?

In this article Shea talks to several Canadian women who were scammed by the same man, Marcel Andre Vautour. The women found that police took little interest in their cases, citing romance fraud as more of a civil matter. However, by banding together these women discovered a source of comfort — and the courage to act as their own detectives. 

For Nikola, connecting with Vautour’s other victims was the only thing that got her through that terrible time. “I went to the police and they basically kicked me out of the room,” she says. “Rosey and the other women gave me a lot of support.” And she gave them a good tip: Vautour had bought himself a fancy backpack with her credit card and, knowing him, he would try to sell it. Rosey went onto Kijiji and there was the identical backpack, for sale by a guy in Nanaimo named Marc.

This was in June 2019; by then I had been researching this story for a few months. I was at my mom’s 70th birthday party when I got a text from Jodi: “WE’VE GOT HIM!!! FINALLY!!! WE’RE GOING TO GET THIS GUY!!!” She was in Nanaimo, having made the six-hour journey from Kelowna. Her new boyfriend, Vince, was with her and they checked into a hotel before setting off on their mission. Rosey was also en route.