Hong Kong woman loses P176 million in online love scam
A 56-year-old woman from Sha Tin, Hong Kong lost HK$26.4 million (around $3.3 million or P176 million) to an online love scam in just 18 months.
The woman, a supervisor in the accounts department of a local trading company, used her life savings and borrowed millions from banks, family and friends to send to her long-distance boyfriend in Malaysia.
As per the South China Morning Post yesterday, May 30, the swindler pretended to be a financial analyst and claimed his assets had been frozen by authorities after failing to pay a handling fee.
The two met on Facebook two years ago in June 2016, with the man first asking money from the woman just a month after they started talking.
“In the beginning, he asked the victim to pay $1,000 for the fee, and then he invented other excuses to borrow more money,” a police source was quoted as saying. “After using up all her HK$1 million savings, she applied for loans from banks, and borrowed money from friends and family.”
The woman realized she was being scammed in February of this year, reaching out to the police anti-fraud squad to report her situation. The police, however, only managed to freeze HK$2 million from the bank accounts, the report said.
This online love scam has become Hong Kong’s biggest one yet. Before, the highest amount a con artist had ever swindled was around HK$14 million, about half of the latest one. Police are now trying to trace holders of the bank accounts used to collect the money, but no arrests have been made as of yet.
Con artists usually befriend women using social media accounts, preying on the lovestruck and the lovesick. The scammers make sure they gain their victims’ trust and confidence before eventually persuading them to wire large amounts of money overseas.
In the Philippines, 10 percent of the reported internet fraud last year alone fall under the love scam category. Cody Cepeda/JB
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