The Times has agreed to use only the first names of the women involved to protect their privacy.
Anna and “Jay Singh” went on an innocuous coffee date on March 5, 2019.
Despite Anna not posting a profile picture, he contacted her on the online dating site, Plenty of Fish (POF).
He said all the right things. She claims he told her he lived in Hamilton and was a lawyer, visited his elderly parents regularly and attended church every Sunday.
“He seemed like a good person and our connection seemed genuine,” Anna said.
Their relationship developed quickly and they both declared their love for one another, she said. He talked about marriage, selling his home and planning a life together. He had met her children twice and had plans for her to meet his children.
But Jay also had costs to bear while starting his own law practice, she claims, so he frequently asked Anna for loans.
In total, she alleges those loans accumulated to $9,500 and he promised to pay her back as soon as possible. He needed the money for an engagement ring, home repairs to get it ready for sale and other miscellaneous things, Anna claims.
“I truly trusted him and loved him. I did not doubt he would pay me back,” she said. “He continuously told me he ‘does not lie.’ ”
Jay’s story started to fragment after that she claims — unfulfilled promises, cancelled dates, not paying money back in a timely manner, never letting her meet his children or go to his house, and excuses involving health concerns, including thinking he might have cancer.
Anna had enough in April 2020 and stop communications on a personal level, only wanting correspondence on paying her back the money owed. He repaid her $6,000 until his cellphone was disconnected, she said.
The address he used was for the Ritz-Carlton in Toronto, which she claims is false.
Suspicious, Anna hired a private investigator. She found out “Jay Singh” was not his real name. It was Jivesh Jagota and he actually lived in Cambridge. He had lied about his profession as well, as he was not listed in the Law Society directory, she said.
When she Googled Jagota, she learned he had been convicted in 2006 for defrauding 13 women he met on Plenty of Fish between 2002 and 2006, bilking them for a total of $150,000. He was dubbed the “Online Casanova.”
In his trial — which had him tried for defrauding 11 women of $103,000 before two more women came forward after his arrest — a Kitchener court heard how he scammed the women financially, passing along a sexually transmitted disease and allegedly getting three women pregnant.
Justice David Carr, who sentenced him in Cambridge court to three years for defrauding the women after turning down an 18-month sentence recommended by the Crown and defence, said the accused spread “misery, financial ruin and also disease.”
In a pre-sentence report to Carr, Jagota denied having romantic relationships with the women, yet three bore his children and a number got chlamydia, according to the Waterloo Region Record.
Waterloo Region police had charged him with six counts of fraud over $5,000, four counts of fraud under $5,000, and six counts of using forged documents.
“You preyed on trusting women and lied about everything,” the judge said, according to a Record story, at his Dec. 11, 2006, sentencing.
“The depth of your deceit is appalling and quite despicable.”
Anna filed a lawsuit in Hamilton Small Claims Court case against him, including damages for a sexually transmitted infection, for the amount of $45,371. The claim includes a principal amount, plus aggravated and punitive damages.
She said the claim has been put on hold due to court backlogs from the COVID-19 pandemic. But she was able to connect with at least five other women in April 2021 who had been “victimized” by him. She found them after a warning was posted on Plenty of Fish.
In a cease-and-desist order to the Times, Jagota’s lawyer Joseph Kazubek, of JK Legal, stated: “Anna (last name removed) has commenced an unfactual small claims matter against our client for breach of commitments. None of these claims have been proven on paper, nor has the matter been called before the courts.
“Currently, neither Anna or any of the other women have filed a police report about any of their claims or concerns of their encounters with my client. My office shall be relying upon these five women to provide testimony statements during the pending litigation that is awaiting scheduling.”
Anna filed a report with Hamilton police on April 12, 2021, which was forwarded to its major fraud unit.
In an email from Det.-Const. Sarah Postuma, of Hamilton police, on June 30, Anna was told, “considering all the evidence … I am simply not able to prove he had intent to commit fraud against you. Therefore, I can’t lay fraud charges against (him). Proving intent is vital to having sufficient grounds to lay a charge of fraud against someone.”
Lynda, another woman attempting to warn people about “Jay Singh,” known to her as Robert Rhio Singh, said two other women, Norine and Christine, spoke to police in St. Catharines. Another woman who didn’t want to be part of the story also filed a police report in the Niagara region town, she said.
“It is our general practice that we do not provide details on individuals or investigations that have not involved charged persons,” said Const. Philip Gavin of Niagara Region police.
A sixth woman, Alison, filed a report with Brantford police on Aug. 3.
Kazubek claims Anna sought out the other women to assist in her pending litigation.
“(She) had gone to the lengths of making a fake POF online profile of our client, in hopes to find other women to collude with.”
Anna said she contacted the other women only after they posted a warning on Plenty of Fish about Jagota.
In Lynda’s case, she said she never gave “Robert” any money during their short relationship in 2013 and therefore was unable to file a police report. She did, however, claim he gave her a STD and “slut shamed” her for it.
The women’s stories are all strikingly similar. Soon after meeting, Jagota allegedly professed his love for them, which led to talk of marriage. They claim he would request money from them for various reasons, and then be tardy on paying some of the money back, if at all.
Lynda noted the women had to file reports in the city where it occurred.
“We are looking for more victims,” Lynda said.
“We knew (him) as Robert Rhio Singh, Robert Singh, Jay Singh or Mark Dua Singh. (They) have gone to our local police to file reports and need more women to do it as well to get this piece of garbage off the street and to stop him doing this to other women.”
No current formal charges have been brought against him.
Const. Andre Johnson, public information officer for Waterloo Region police, said there weren’t any current local complaints involving the man.
Gavin called the information provided being consistent with a romance scam.
In Ontario, from 2017 to March 2021, there have been 1,570 reports of romance scams, with 1,175 victims and about $41.2 million in financial losses. In Canada, there were 4,390 romance scam reports with 3,097 victims and about $90.7 million in financial losses.
According to Niagara police’s website, scammers are notorious for creating fictitious profiles on dating sites or contact their targets through popular social media sites. The scammers strike up a relationship with their targets to build their trust, sometimes talking or chatting several times a day. They then make up a story and ask for money.
It also states, scammers will often say they’re living or travelling outside of the country.
“We’ve heard about scammers who say they are working on an oil rig, in the military, a doctor with an international organization. They will ask for money to pay for a plane ticket or other travel expenses, pay for surgery or other medical expenses, pay customs fees to retrieve something, pay off gambling debts, or pay for a visa or other official travel documents,” the website stated.
“Trust those people who you know, not those who appeal to your emotions with false words.”
In Waterloo Region, police received reports of online romance scams where a victim was reportedly scammed out of US$500,000.
Story behind the story: Two women approached the Times after they allege they were the victims of a romance scam by a Cambridge man. They want to make sure other women don’t fall into that trap.