News

S'pore woman loses $210,000 in 'love parcel scam'

She met "Denny Crane" on Facebook last July.

When "Denny", who claimed to be Irish, expressed interest in her, they became online lovers.

What the 60-year-old Singaporean woman did not know was that "Denny" was a Nigerian based in Kuala Lumpur and was part of a "love parcel scam".

China Press reported that some time in August, "Denny" sent the woman an e-mail saying that he was sending a parcel containing £750,000 (S$1.5 million) to her home in Johor Baru.

She received an e-mail on the same day from a supposed courier saying that the parcel had already arrived at customs and that she would have to pay transaction and insurance fees for the parcel to claim it.

She was given instructions to deposit RM560,000 (S$210,000) into 12 bank accounts to pay the fees.

She was so taken by "Denny's" sweet talk and romantic advances that she did not suspect that anything was amiss.

When the last transaction was made and the parcel did not arrive, she realised she had been duped.

She lodged a police report on Jan 21.

BUSTED

Last week, the Malaysian police tracked down the syndicate that "Denny" was part of. They arrested one woman and five other Nigerian men.

They also seized 21 ATM cards, 14 bank passbooks, 10 mobile phones, one passport and one laptop.

The five Nigerians, aged between 26 and 39, are in Malaysia on student visas.

Their role in the scam was to look for victims online and gain their confidence and trust by feigning interest in them.

It is believed that the woman was the mastermind of the syndicate, which has been around for at least two years.

The woman, a 42-year-old Malaysian, admitted to being involved in previous scams. She does not have a stable job and allegedly organises scams like these to make money, China Press reported.

It was also reported that she was romantically involved with the five Nigerian men who are part of the syndicate and that she has 12 children by different men.

The woman, who also acted as a bank account holder for the syndicate, has admitted to receiving between RM1.5 million and RM2 million in transactions.

The police said that the syndicate made about RM7.8 million from the scam during the past two years.

The Star reported that nine other Malaysians, including six women, who were working for the syndicate were also arrested.

It was reported that they received four to five per cent of the total transactions if they let the syndicate use their accounts to launder money.

PAST CASES OF 'LOVE SCAMS'

JUNE 2013

Sixty foreigners, including 49 Nigerians, who were involved in an elaborate love scam were arrested in Malaysia.Their modus operandi was to court women through social media and promise to send them pricey gifts. Then, they would say the items had been seized by customs and needed money to release them.

SEPTEMBER 2012

Nigerian Akibon Michael Mayokun, 33, was arrested in Malaysia over allegations that he swindled a Singaporean woman after romancing her online.

He claimed trialand was acquitted after the prosecution offered no more evidence.

JULY 2012

Two Singaporean women were jailed six and four months for laundering criminal proceeds.

They had allowed their bank accounts to be used by Nigerians who scammed others of money by claiming they had been detained at Changi Airport and needed money for their release.