Married woman cheated in love scam
Married mother of two's online 'affair' with 'Canadian man' turned out to be a love scam
The married woman, a mother of two, thought she was having an affair with a charming Canadian man. Instead, she was cheated of more than $7,000 in a love scam.
At a press briefing yesterday, the 48-year-old administrator, who wanted to be known only as Alice, told the media via conference call that the man added her on Facebook in December last year.
"He looked handsome and was well-built," she said.
"In the beginning we talked about hobbies, kids and all that. Then, after that, it became 'I love you, you're my sweetheart, darling, honey', all that stuff."
She said the relationship went on for about four months, and they would talk over the phone via Whatsapp calls every night.
"When my husband was sleeping at night, I would find a hiding place to talk to him," she said.
"He would call and say he missed me, that he dreamt we got married and had kids together."
Then in March, the man said he was sending her a parcel containing jewellery, clothes and US$25,000 (S$34,400).
Alice was surprised, but was looking forward to the gifts.
Soon after, she received a call from a courier company, claiming it was stuck at customs.
The person told her to transfer about $2,650 to a bank account as payment for a goods and services charge.
Alice said she then contacted her lover, who told her to do so.
"He said that when I got the package, the money in it was more than enough to cover the fees," she said.
"I did it thinking it was true."
However, a few days after, the 'courier service' called her again, this time claiming there was another charge of about $5,000. Her lover convinced her to make the transfer again, and Alice did so by taking money from a bank account she shared with her mother.
But she soon realised something was amiss after confiding in a friend.
"My friend told me it was a scam and to make a police report, which I did," she said.
Luckily for her, the police were able to retrieve the money and return it.
Alice said her family, including her husband of 17 years, still does not know about her indiscretion. "I feel that such scams should be made known to the public to prevent others from falling prey (to them)," she said.
There were 280 Internet love scams in the first half of this year, with a total amount of $12 million cheated from victims.
A police spokesman said that while the number of cases was lower than the 344 cases in the same period last year, Internet love scams are still a concern.
She said: "In these scams, victims typically befriended scammers online and developed relationships with them.
"To avoid falling prey to these scams, members of the public are advised to be careful when befriending strangers online."
She added that anyone contacted by a stranger on the phone, who demands payment to a bank account, should stop communicating with the caller as it is probably a scam.
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688.
Anyone with information on such scams may also call the police hotline at 1800-255 0000 or submit information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness.
Business e-mail impersonation scams on the rise: Police
More than 200 reports on business e-mail impersonation scams were made between January and July this year, the police said yesterday.
This is an increase of 9.7 per cent compared with the number of reports made over the same period last year.
According to the police, such scams typically target businesses with overseas dealings that use e-mail as their main mode of communication.
First, the scammers would hack into the e-mail accounts of the victims or their suppliers to monitor correspondence between both parties and look out for any ongoing negotiations or discussions on sales and purchase transactions.
Using the supplier's e-mail account or a spoofed e-mail account that closely resembles that of the supplier, the scammers would then request business payments to be made to a bank account they controlled.
Victims of such scams were often deceived into transferring the money, believing that the payments were being made to their regular business partners.
The victims would realise they had fallen prey to the scam only when their suppliers informed them that they did not receive the money.
Spoofed e-mail addresses often include slight misspellings or replacement of letters which may not be obvious at first glance, warned the police.
The scammers may also mimic e-mails of the real suppliers by using the same business logos, links to the company's website or messaging format.
The police advise that businesses be mindful of any new or sudden changes in payment instructions and bank accounts.
Businesses are advised to use strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication where possible.
They can also call the anti-scam helpline on 1800-722-6688 or go to www.scamalert.sg.