INTERNET SCAM

Hong Kong woman latest victim of online love scam after losing HK$880,000 to ‘British lover’

Kwun Tong woman transferred money to bank accounts in Mexico and the United States after being instructed to do so by online “lover”

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 November, 2016, 11:58pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 November, 2016, 11:58pm

A 42-year-old woman has become the latest victim of an online love scam after she was conned out of HK$880,000 by her “British lover”.

The woman, a clerk who lived in Kwun Tong’s Tsui Ping Estate, came to know “Richy” through a dating app in April. The man told her he was a British businessman.

A month later, “Richy” claimed to have run into financial problems and said he was urgently in need of money. Without having ever met her “lover”, she followed instructions given by him to transfer HK$880,000 to bank accounts in Mexico and the United States between May and August.

“The money was transferred in 30 separate transactions to bank accounts opened in different names,” a police source said.

“The story always ends up the same. The victim only realised she had been scammed when the lover disappeared after receiving the money.”

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

The con came three weeks after a “Nigerian lover” scammed a 48-year-old woman out of HK$1.4 million using a similar trick, despite repeated warnings from police about the dangers posed by online and telephone scammers.

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

The manager of a local trading company, also a Kwun Tong resident, came to know that scammer through a dating app in March. Her “lover” also told of financial problems and requested money, and the victim transferred US$186,000 to a Nigerian bank account in six transactions, but became suspicious when she no longer heard from the man after August.

Police received 51 reports of online scams with a “romantic” aspect 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 said most of the victims were female.

“Some scammers stole random profile pictures online and posed as professionals,” the source said.

“The victims never met the lovers as they rejected requests for video chats, saying they had an unstable internet connection.”

The force has repeatedly warned the public to stay alert to online con artists, advising residents not to disclose personal details and to be vigilant about transferring any money.