By CTV Toronto

Police have laid more than 40 charges against nine people from the Toronto area in connection with a $1.5-million romance fraud scheme.

Police allege the accused were part of an organized, criminal network that targeted women on various dating websites. They used the names Benjamin D. Baker and Ryan Hull.

According to police, those involved in this type of fraud typically go to “great lengths” to make their false identity believable.

“The suspect will use a number of tactics and schemes to build trust and establish a relationship with the victims,” York Regional Police said in a statement on Tuesday.

“These relationships often progress very quickly to an emotional point where the victim is so invested in the relationship that they feel compelled to help when the suspect begins to ask for money.”

Police launched an investigation into the romance fraud scheme in July 2014 after a woman came forward to investigators. Six other victims were later identified in addition to a “very large number of women” who the suspects attempted to get money from, but were ultimately unsuccessful.

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