Woman nearly loses US$5,000 in online love scam

Published by The Straits Times on Sep 4, 2019

SINGAPORE – Heartbroken after a one-year relationship with a man she met while gaming on the Internet ended, Alice (not her real name) decided to look for love online in July this year.

The 43-year-old IT manager met a man on a popular dating app who claimed he was born in Taiwan but was now living in the United States as a diamond dealer.

They would chat and call each other every day on messaging platform WhatsApp.

“He told me that after his mother died about five years ago, he has been feeling empty and alone, and needed someone in his life,” Alice told reporters on Wednesday (Sept 4) in an interview arranged by the police to warn of online love scams that have seen an uptick.

She said he would send her romantic poems every day, and selfies and photos of his life that “seemed so real”, she did not suspect anything was awry.

He also asked her several times to be his girlfriend and said he would come to Singapore to meet her, but she declined as she was still healing from her break-up.

After just two weeks, the man asked her for a loan of US$5,000 (S$7,000).

“He said he had a package of diamonds worth US$800,000 and needed help to pay the custom fees so that the package could reach his clients,” said Alice, who spoke to journalists at the Police Headquarters.

A few days later, he told her that he did not receive the money and asked her to make a second transfer.

This time, Alice’s suspicions were raised. Without alerting the man, she checked on the status of the transfer with her bank, which confirmed that the transfer was successfully made.

Realising that he may not have been telling her the truth, Alice sought advice from her sister. On Aug 20, Alice made a police report after discovering she had been scammed.

While she was lucky enough to eventually get back her money after notifying the police, many other victims of Internet love scams are not.

In the first half of this year, there were 306 cases of Internet love scams reported to the police, up from the 288 cases in the same period last year.

Victims lost a total of $17.1 million – a 46 per cent increase from the $11.7 million in the same period last year.

The largest amount cheated in a single case in the first six months of this year was $2.4 million.

Principal psychologists Carolyn Misir and Jeffery Chin from the Singapore Police Force said anyone can become a victim of an Internet love scam.

Scammers often use compliance and persuasion tactics in order to get victims to transfer money to them, they added.

For example, scammers may study their targets and create a fake profile to match what their potential victims may find attractive in a partner.

They also try to catch their victims at a time of vulnerability, such as after the loss of a relationship, divorce, or emotional event in their lives, added Ms Misir.

In Alice’s case, she was savvy enough to be able to pick up on the red flags, said Mr Chin.

“All victims of Internet love scams usually would develop suspicions at some point, but most of them don’t act on them because they would have to let go of the bond that was formed, so sometimes, they choose not to see the signs,” he added.

“It’s not just a monetary loss, but the loss of a relationship is akin to the loss of a loved one.”

To tackle love scams, police have set up an anti-scam centre that would be able to freeze suspicious bank accounts in the three major banks here – DBS, OCBC and United Overseas Bank.

Bank staff have also been trained to spot customers who may be victims of scams.

The psychologists said family and friends can also help by keeping an eye out.

“Don’t make transactions to people you don’t know, and don’t be afraid to tell someone if you think you may have become a victim,” said Ms Misir.

For Alice, her close shave with an Internet love scammer has left her distrustful of others, even in real life.

“I’m considered lucky but I’ve heard other stories where other victims were hurt badly. Don’t put too much trust into these online relationships, so you can protect yourself,” she said.

上网交友疗情伤 女经理险被骗7000元

来自联合早报发布 / 2019年9月4日 4:20 PM

早报讯)女经理和男友分手后上网交友疗情伤,遇上“钻石商”天天与她煲电话粥、写情诗求爱,两周后企图骗她5000美元(近7000新元),所幸她及时发现,报警保住血汗钱。

艾莉丝(43岁,信息科技经理)接受《新明日报》访问时透露,她最近刚与交往一年的男友分手,为治疗情伤而去台湾旅行5天,期间在台湾友人的介绍下,开始使用交友软件,7月中旬认识了一名自称从台湾移民到美国的39岁男子。

“他每天都会发简讯给我,我们通过短信聊了两周后,就开始通电话,每天早晚两次,都是闲聊,会分享旅行中的事情等等。”

艾莉丝坦言,当时尚未走出情伤,因此只是抱着认识新朋友的心态使用软件,所以当对方向她示爱时,她不想展开新恋情。

不久后,男子声称是名钻石商,需要寄出价值80万的钻石,但因银行账号遭黑客入侵,无法汇出5000美元快递保险费,因此要求她帮忙付钱给运输代理。

艾莉丝根据他的指示把钱转到一个意大利账户,但没有成功,对方在7月24日再给了一个美国账户,钱才成功转进去,对方却称没有过账,每天催她去银行查询,还要她提供转账记录,但她转账到国外从未出现过问题,银行也说没问题,她因此开始起疑。

所以当对方要求她再转账给另一个中国账户时,她立即通知银行,保住了5000美元。

她也报了警,但没让对方知道。当她质问对方是不是骗子时,对方矢口否认,甚至继续跟她要钱,被两次拉黑后仍用新的号码尝试联系她,直到昨天仍然纠缠着她。

“我希望公众不要轻易相信这些,即使是现实中,也需要一段时间去认识对方。”

Common scams tricks 常用咋骗技俩

Home 主页