Police in western Finland suspect a man in his 50s of defrauding nearly 40 women out of around 1.3 million euros under the guise of being romantically interested in them.
The Ostrobothnia police department's financial crimes unit investigated the string of cases and said the suspect preyed on 37 female victims across the country for more than a decade. The suspect has been held in remand during the pre-trial investigation, according to police.
At a minimum, each of the victims lost a few thousand euros, but police said the suspect managed to bilk as much as hundreds of thousands from other women.
Police said the man swindled money from his victims after meeting them at local dance halls and aboard ship cruises, promising them they would live together in the future and then started asking them for cash.
Suspected fraud and aggravated fraud
Authorities said the man would conduct several of the romantic scams at the same time, and that while some of his victims were older than the suspect, others were his age or younger.
Ostrobothnian police Inspector Teuvo Nissilä said some of the relationships lasted for many years with the victims considering them to be ordinary, long-term bonds with some of them lasting more than 10 years.
"These [victims] were completely normal women," Nissilä said.
Police said the man had no intention nor ability of paying back the women and that the cases are being investigated as fraud and aggravated fraud.
Authorities warned that people should not fall prey to open-ended requests for money from others, saying that people should be healthily skeptical even under the glow of romance.