A married woman, a mother of two, met a man through Facebook. She thought she was having an affair with a charming Canadian man. Instead, she was cheated of more than $7,000 in a love scam.
At a press briefing yesterday, the 48-year-old administrator, who wanted to be known only as Alice, told the media via conference call that the man added her on the social media platform in December last year.
“He looked handsome and was well-built,” she said.
“In the beginning we talked about hobbies, kids and all that. Then, after that, it became ‘I love you, you’re my sweetheart, darling, honey’, all that stuff.”
She said the relationship went on for about four months, and they would talk over the phone via Whatsapp calls every night.
“When my husband was sleeping at night, I would find a hiding place to talk to him,” she said.
“He would call and say he missed me, that he dreamt we got married and had kids together.”
Then in March, the man said he was sending her a parcel containing jewellery, clothes and US$25,000 (S$34,400).
Alice was surprised, but was looking forward to the gifts.
Soon after, she received a call from a courier company, claiming it was stuck at customs.
The person told her to transfer about $2,650 to a bank account as payment for a goods and services charge.
Alice said she then contacted her lover, who told her to do so.
“He said that when I got the package, the money in it was more than enough to cover the fees,” she said.
“I did it thinking it was true.”
However, a few days after, the ‘courier service’ called her again, this time claiming there was another charge of about $5,000. Her lover convinced her to make the transfer again, and Alice did so by taking money from a bank account she shared with her mother.
But she soon realised something was amiss after confiding in a friend.
“My friend told me it was a scam and to make a police report, which I did,” she said.
Luckily for her, the police were able to retrieve the money and return it.
Alice said her family, including her husband of 17 years, still does not know about her indiscretion. “I feel that such scams should be made known to the public to prevent others from falling prey (to them),” she said.
There were 280 Internet love scams in the first half of this year, with a total amount of $12 million cheated from victims.
A police spokesman said that while the number of cases was lower than the 344 cases in the same period last year, Internet love scams are still a concern.
She said: “In these scams, victims typically befriended scammers online and developed relationships with them.
“To avoid falling prey to these scams, members of the public are advised to be careful when befriending strangers online.”
She added that anyone contacted by a stranger on the phone, who demands payment to a bank account, should stop communicating with the caller as it is probably a scam.
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688.
Anyone with information on such scams may also call the police hotline at 1800-255 0000 or submit information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness
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