Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cyber Casanovas Target Malaysian Women

News reported in The Star

JOHOR BARU: 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.

The cassanovas, I suspect, are using Facebook.

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.

In this day and age, it is disheartening to note that Malaysian women still fall for this "rich hunk" ploy. They truly believe that rich hunks have noting better to do, and have no other access to meeting women, other than meeting Malaysian women through online social media sites like Facebook.

They promise to send cash of between £1,000 (RM5,200) and £2mil (RM10.4mil) for the women to go on a shopping spree.

Rich hunks with that kind of money to waste, spend their time "dating" women on Facebook, instead of hanging out in Monte Carlo or Nice, right ? I can only imagine how the conversation with this women went - I would really like to know.

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.

This is obviously a variation to the typical "cash in advance" Nigerian scam.

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.

Just because they are doctors and managers do not mean they are geniuses. I noticed that those with tertiary education are more easily duped compared to the average joes. Further, these women are the most lonely.

One example is a case in Johor where a human resource manager in her 30s lost more than RM30,000.

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 (RM261,000) for her to go on a shopping spree.

Yeah, right ! How dumb and desperate can someone be to spend RM30,000 on someone she hasn't even met in person.

She met him on Facebook, communicates with him for one month and she's either head over heels in love with this cyber lover or desperate to receive the £50,000 "gift".

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 only suspected that she's been duped after the con man decided to flee ? Unbelievable.

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.

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