INTERNET SCAM

Hong Kong woman scammed out of HK$1.4 million by Nigerian ‘lover’

Police say victim got to know scammer through dating app and was persuaded to send him money because he said he had financial problems; he then vanished

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 October, 2016, 6:10pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 October, 2016, 10:59pm

A 48-year-old woman has become the latest victim of an online romantic scam after being conned out of more than HK$1.4 million by her “Nigerian lover”.

Initial investigations showed the Kwun Tong resident, who is the manager of a local trading company, got to know the scammer through a dating app in March before she was persuaded to transfer money to him, according to a police source.

Phone scammers based across Asia bag more than HK$78 million from Hongkongers this year alone

“She was told he ran a business in Nigeria and had invested in a major development project, but he was in financial difficulty and needed money urgently,” the source said.

“Following his instructions, she transferred US$186,000 in six transactions to a Nigerian bank account.”

The woman became suspicious when she lost contact with him in August.

“She then went to the Consulate General of Nigeria in Hong Kong to check but was told there was no such project in the country,” the source said.

She realised she had been cheated and made a report to police at about 9am on Friday last week – when the typhoon signal No 8 was in force.

Police are treating the case as “obtaining property by deception”. Officers from Kwun Tong police district are investigating.

According to police, there were 51 reports of online romantic scams involving HK$39.8 million in the first seven months of this year. In the whole of last year, police handled 62 cases involving HK$32.42 million. Police say most of the victims are female.

It is understood the victims and their ”lovers” have never met and requests for video chats were rejected, with the fraudsters making excuses such as having an unstable internet connection.

Another source said victims were often told their so-called lovers would fly to Hong Kong to marry them but they had run into trouble and needed money.

“When you make friends on the internet, remember to adopt a prudent attitude to avoid falling into the traps set by culprits and thus incurring losses,” police warn on their website.

“Beware of online romance scammers who want money, not love!”, police say.