Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Virtual casanovas cash in

Dec 23, 2008

THEY choose their victims via Internet social networking sites and pretend to be cyber casanovas who start showering their victims with virtual gifts such as flowers, jewellery, plants, pets and even cars.

They then exchange photographs and virtual love letters for some time before the casanovas, usually claiming to be rich hunks from Britain and the Middle East, tell their victims they want to get them a real gift as a way of expressing their commitment.

They promise to send cash of between 1,000 pounds (S$2,145) and 2 million pounds for the women to go on a shopping spree.

The only catch is that the women would have to bank in a substantial amount of money, supposedly into the account of a local forwarding company, as processing fee for the parcel containing the cash to be sent to Malaysia.

The forwarding company may even ask for a few payments, citing all sorts of difficulties in getting the package through.

When the woman begins to feel suspicious and questions her 'boyfriend', the e-mail stops.

Police say many women around the country, some holding respectable jobs like doctors and managers, have been victims of such scams. Thousands of ringgit is believed to have been lost.

One example is a case in Johor where a human resource manager in her 30s lost more than RM30,000 (S$12,460).

She befriended a person, claiming to be from Britain, via a social networking site about a month ago.

They exchanged messages regularly and the man told her he wanted to send her 50,000 pounds for her to go on a shopping spree.

The next day, the woman got a call from a person, claiming to be from a forwarding company, saying she needed to bank in RM4,000 for the parcel to be delivered.

They continued to ask her for money - totalling RM30,000 - over a few days, giving various excuses including exchange rate and other expenses.

The woman suspected something amiss and when she questioned her boyfriend, he did not reply her e-mail.

She then lodged a police report.

Bukit Aman commercial crime investigations director Comm Datuk Koh Hong Sun confirmed there were many cases of cheating not just via the Internet but also through SMSes.

He advised people, especially women, to be careful when asked to transfer money to those they meet online.

'We are checking to see whether local syndicates are working with overseas ones,' he said. -- The Star/ANN

[Fool and money soon parted.]

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