Internet love scam victim warns others
She almost lost $7,000 after connecting with a man on dating app
Feeling down after ending arelationship, she downloaded an online dating application.
The 43-year-old, who wanted to be known as Alice, saw a man had requested to connect with her in mid-July.
About two weeks later, the information technology manager sent him US$5,000 (S$7,000) as he claimed he needed the money, but soon realised she had become another victim of an Internet love scam.
In an interview with the media yesterday, arranged by the police, Alice talked about how she had been scammed after using an online dating application for the first time.
She told TNP: "He mentioned that his mother had died five years ago, and he was looking for a partner as he felt empty and lonely."
In his profile, the man listed his age as 39, but later told Alice he was actually 44-years-old after she noted how he was younger than her.
They chatted on WhatsApp, then spoke on the phone daily.
She said: "There was a lot of sweet talk. He would say he missed me and liked to hear my voice."
While they had sent photos, Alice had never met the man and when they had a video call, he told her his phone's camera was not working.
The man also claimed to supply to clients diamonds he sourced from around the world.
A week later, he told her he needed US$5,000 to pay for the shipping fees of a package of diamonds.
On July 24, she transferred the sum to a US bank account.
Her suspicions were raised when she discovered the account was under a different name, and when the man claimed he had not received the money. He even asked for more money later.
She contacted the bank to track the funds and made a police report on Aug 20, after learning the money had already reached the foreign account.
Luckily for Alice, her money was later recovered.
Mr Jeffery Chin and Ms Carolyn Misir, principal psychologists at the Operations and Forensic Psychology Branch, Police Psychology Services Division, said there were many common traits of an Internet love scammer in Alice's case.
Ms Misir said: "They target individuals who have recently gone through a personal event, like a divorce, or losing a family member.
They said these scammers will also disclose their own form of vulnerabilities, to make themselves seem more human and trustworthy, much like what the man had shared with Alice.
Mr Chin said: "After engaging with the victim, they will typically have a 'crisis' and ask for help, which is clear in this case."
Ms Misir added: "Based on our local studies, they contact targets in their late 30s and early 40s through dating sites, and those in their late 40s and early 50s through Facebook. Most of the victims are women."
On how victims fall for the scam, she said: "The person comes in and fills 'the void' in the victim, after a bond is formed. Victims a lot of the times are suspicious at certain points, but don't act on it."
Mr Chin's advice is to never make money transactions to a person you have never met.
Between January and June this year, there were 306 reported cases of Internet love scams here.