A southern Ontario man says he now owes his friends and family $150,000 after international email scam artists bilked him of the funds by convincing him he was about to inherit a fortune.
John Rempel, who is unemployed, lives with his Mennonite parents in a simple wartime home in Leamington, about 50 kilometres southeast of Windsor.
Rempel told CBC News the scheme started in 2007, when he opened an email and thought he was set for life.
The email told the 22-year-old a distant relative had died in a bomb attack in London, England, and left behind $12.8 million.
He said the email was from someone claiming to be an attorney named Matthew Spencer, who said he represented the relative and was looking for someone to claim the fortune.
Spencer was a world away, but convinced Rempel they shared a faith in God, he said.
"He always said, 'God bless you,'" Rempel said.
"Every Sunday he was in church. All that stuff made me believe it, right?"
So when Rempel was told he needed to pay fees for documents, he did.
"At first it was a little bit, some fees about $2,500, and I thought that was it," he said.
"After that … it never stopped. They were like, 'Just this bit yet and then it's going to happen.'"
When he was told he needed to fly to England to meet some men personally and pay more fees, he did.