Internet Dating and Romance Scams

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Hong Kong police bust transnational love scam that duped women out of HK$60m

In an unprecedented joint operation, Hong Kong, Malaysian and Nigerian police have busted a syndicate running online romance scams which duped nearly 90 women out of HK$60 million, ­local officials said on Friday.

The transnational racket, based in Malaysia, had swindled 73 Hong Kong women out of HK$58 million since 2014, according to Hong Kong police. The gang also cheated 13 Malaysian women out of HK$2 million.

The biggest victim was a middle-aged professional from Hong Kong who was conned out of HK$9.1 million, according to Superintendent Lam Cheuk-ho of the cybersecurity and technology crime bureau.

Police crack Spain-based phone scam ring that swindled HK$10 million from victims in Hong Kong

The woman became acquainted with the swindler through an online dating platform last summer, but nine months passed before she realised she had been duped and sought police help in April. It is understood her money was laundered through more than 10 bank accounts in Malaysia and Nigeria before police lost track of it.

The gang was allegedly headed by a pair of lovers – a Nigerian man, aged 36, and a Malaysian woman, 46. They were among 13 people nabbed in Malaysia last week during the joint operation. Hong Kong police officers went to Kuala Lumpur ahead of a series of raids between December 5 and 8.

[Police have carried out campaigns urging residents to watch out for telephone and online scammers. Photo: David Wong]

“Half of the core members were responsible for using computers to create fake identities, and searching for and contacting victims, while the other half handled crime proceeds and remitted the money out of Hong Kong and other countries,” Lam said.

Describing it as the “biggest and a sophisticated syndicate” that preyed on Hong Kong women, he said the gang also targeted victims in Europe, the United States and Australia.

Scammers typically disguised as “Caucasian” European or American men, claiming to be professionals in fields such as engineering, banking, business or the military, befriended victims online. It would usually take them at least one or two months to win the trust and sympathy of victims.

“Victims were told their so-called lovers would fly to Hong Kong to marry them and send wedding gifts and assets,” Lam said. “But they were then told the gifts and assets had been confiscated by local authorities and victims were asked for help to pay handling and administrative fees or a surety.”

Some victims were told their “lovers” had run into trouble and needed money urgently, among other excuses.

“Don’t trust sweet-talking people easily,” Chief Inspector Hui Yee-wai advised.


December 23, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Facebook romance scam ends in federal prison for two men

Two Nigerian citizens were sentenced Thursday to 36 months in federal prison and could face possible deportation for their participation in a $2 million romance scam that started on Facebook.

Kunle Mutiu Amoo, 49, and Lanre Sunday Adeoba, 62, were ordered to pay a little over $86,000 in restitution, after pleading guilty to one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud, according to U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

Amoo and Adeoba admitted their involvement in a scam that defrauded victims of money by making false promises or stating romantic overtures that the victims would be repaid.

The defendants pretended to be South African diplomats who needed the victim’s financial assistance to transport money into the United States. The two admitted in their guilty plea that they tried to defraud the victim of $506,000. The victim lost $2 million because of the scam.

Amoo and Adeoba will be in federal custody until they can be moved to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility at a later date.

U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett, who sentenced Amoo and Adeoba, said the two had abused a position of trust by pretending to be diplomats. He also noted the victim suffered severe financial hardship from their actions.

The woman was drawn into the scam after being drawn into an Internet relationship with a man she never met. The two Nigerian men posed as diplomats who were supposedly working with the man on a South African project, according to court documents.

Compared to other Internet-enabled crimes, romance scams result in the largest amount of financial loss among victims, according to the FBI. Victims of these scams, which are classified as confidence frauds, reported nearly $200 million worth of financial losses in 2015, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center

December 23, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


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