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Gay man duped in whirlwind romance

VPD seeks help in identifying suspect

HEY! THAT'S MINE: The VPD is looking for this man, who allegedly identifies himself as Raymond Vongerberge, in connection with a fraud investigation.

The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) is seeking help from the queer community in identifying and locating a man in connection with an ongoing fraud investigation.

Vancouver resident Peter Ridgway alleges he met a man who identified himself as Raymond Vongerberge at Numbers on Davie St, Feb 7. Ridgway says he struck up a relationship with the man and soon allowed him to stay with him in his apartment. Over the course of the following two weeks, Ridgway says he became increasingly suspicious of Vongerberge’s activities and identity.

Ridgway alleges he asked the man to leave Feb 15, which he did without incident. But the following day, Ridgway says he received a call from his bank about suspicious activity on his bank account.

Ridgway says he then discovered his bank card and credit card were missing from his wallet. He suspects the man took them and that he peeked at his PIN number while he was making a purchase days earlier.

Ridgway alleges there were about 10 unauthorized charges amounting to about $1,500 before he cancelled his cards. He says someone withdrew cash from ATMs and made a series of small debit card purchases with cashback at businesses around the West End, including the Shopper’s Drug Mart and Super Valu on Davie St.

“The difficulty here is trying to establish this person’s true identity,” says VPD spokesperson Howard Chow. “The unfortunate aspect of this is we have this kind of thing happen on a continual basis. Until we get more details, it remains an open investigation.”

Chow says the VPD doesn’t have the resources to dedicate to fraud investigations unless much more money is involved. But, he says, anyone who thinks they know of Vongerberge’s immediate whereabouts should call 911.

“You have people out there who prey on whatever victim they can find,” says Chow. “You have all sorts of ruses and stories, all sorts of things that will lead people into their traps. When they get something that will benefit them, then off they go to find another victim.”

The alleged perpetrator may be using the aliases Raymond Gaudet or Joseph Gaudet. He speaks with a French accent, stands 5’11, with hazel eyes, a slim build and is about 43 years old. He has a tattoo of a dolphin on one of his forearms. He has dirty-blonde hair, which may be bleached white. He may have connections to Windsor, Quebec City, or Montreal. He is known to frequent gay bars in the Davie Village.

Ridgway says he’s a little embarrassed he fell into a trap and is disappointed he was victimized like this by another gay man.

“In our society, we feel unsafe enough in the normal world,” he says. “To be in your own enclave and find there are people there you have to be leery of as well goes against all the things we’ve fought for.”

Ridgway, who moved to Vancouver about a year ago, says the money isn’t as important as doing what he can to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

“The lesson I’ve learned out of it is that my boundaries were not strong enough to protect me,” he says. “That’s the first time I’ve let someone into my life so fully, so quickly. I don’t know if it’s being new to Vancouver. It’s not an easy city to get into with a group of people.”