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A New Record Of Online Love Scam – This Hong Kong Businesswoman Lost HK$180 Million



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Sep 07 2018
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Zodiac is one of many tools which can be used to tell if one is potentially a con artist. If you believe in astrology, beware of the opposite sex from the following zodiac signs – Gemini, Cancer, Leo and Aquarius. They are said to have higher probability of conning you out of money. Of course, this has not been proven to be 100% accurate, so take it with a pinch of salt.

 

In reality, love is the greatest con of all, as far as history of humankind is concerned. There’s a reason why online love scam is still alive and kicking, doing a roaring business, despite such scams being exposed repeatedly. Lonely souls need love – desperately – hence blinded by con artists, as a Hong Kong businesswoman found out – 4 years later.

 

In what appears to be a new record in Hong Kong’s biggest love scam to date, the 66-year-old businesswoman, reportedly living in Wan Chai, was conned of a mind-boggling HK$180 million (US$23 million; £17.7 million; RM95 million) by “an engineer from Britain”. Yes, it’s hard to imagine how a supposedly intelligent businesswoman could be duped so easily.

A widow since her husband’s death in 2013, the “wealthy woman” runs a real estate investment company in the city. She told police she got to know the scammer on the dating website “LoveStruck” and started “dating the engineer” online in 2014. Surprisingly, she never met him in person. Blinded by the romance, the woman let down her guard and became a victim.

 

With more than 60,000 Hong Kong registered members alone, Lovestruck is a website and online app that arranges online dating, matchmaking and social events for members to know each other. It has presence in Australia, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United States and of course, United Kingdom.

 

The businesswoman said the conman claimed he was in need of money to continue the cash flow of his business, therefore, she transferred money to his bank account more than 200 times between May 2014 and July this year. A source said – “The scammer claimed he needed money urgently for an engineering project, and he promised to pay it back after completion of the project.”

Internet Online Love Scam

She estimated that she handed over a total of HK$180 million before he disappeared two months ago. Amusingly, the woman said she did not realize she was scammed until she spoke about the disappearance to her family. The businesswoman reportedly had given away all her personal savings.

 

The Hong Kong businesswoman was scammed into transferring the cash to bank accounts in Hong Kong, mainland China, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, Britain and Germany. The most jaw-dropping revelation about this case was that the victim never met the man throughout their four-year relationship, yet she found him to be trustworthy enough to keep sending the money.

 

The amount scammed is 7-times more than the previous record – HK$26.4 million. In May, a 56-year-old Hong Kong woman who lives in a public housing estate in Shatin revealed how she lost tons of money to an online love scammer over 18 months. Working as chief of the accounting department of a trading company, she was scammed by a “Malaysian financial analyst”.

Internet Online Love Scam - Woman Lost Money

The woman met the Malaysian man on Facebook and they “fell in love” in June 2016. The man told the victim that he had HK$80 million worth of “inheritance” left by his father but the assets were frozen by the authorities in Malaysia because he failed to pay a handling fee. At first, he only asked for US$1,000, but later on, he used various excuses to request more money.

 

The victim soon spent all of her HK$1 million savings and started borrowing money from banks, friends and relatives – totalling HK$22 million. By January this year, she had sent HK$26.4 million to the con artist in 387 transactions. She only realized that she was being cheated when she was unable to contact him any more, after she had no more money to help her lover.

 

Hong Kong’s longest-running scam involved a finance manager who lost HK$14 million to a con artist posing as a British film director. Their online relationship lasted eight years and she never met him in person. Scammers targeting Hong Kong women typically pose as white male entrepreneurs, professionals or military veterans.

Internet Online Love Scam - Keyboard

Hong Kong authorities reveal that in the past two months, an average of one report a day was made to police about online love scams. Some victims told the police that they knew about such tricks through newspaper and television reports. But somehow when they found out they had been conned themselves anyway, they could not believe it.

 

They could not believe they had been scammed because they felt too deep in their relationship and did not want to pull out. Last year alone, Hong Kong police were bombarded with 235 cases of online romance fraud, involving losses of HK$108 million. A year earlier in 2016, there were 114 cases of online love scam totalling HK$95 million. About 90% of the victims were women.

 

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