Love scam: Are you being scammed? | #datingscams | #lovescams | #facebookscams

SHAH ALAM – The cases of online love scams have been reported over the years, and of late, the number of cases seems to have escalated with many recent cases highlighted of scammers successfully swindle large sum of money for unsuspecting victims.

On March 21, a 63-year-old widow was reported to have lost a whopping RM3.9 million to a man he met on Instagram.

Another woman was swindled RM152,500 by a man who claimed that he would marry her and the money was to be used for their wedding preparations.

On April 8, Sinar Daily reported that a technician had lost RM222,473 in a ‘love scam’ after falling for a woman he met through Facebook.

Scammers were always creeping online to find the victims of their love scam or romance scam.

Usually, these suspects would use profile pictures of attractive foreign male or female to get to know a victim through social media such as Facebook and Instagram or dating sites. They would claim that they are citizens of foreign countries, sometimes even to the extent that they were royalties in the said country.

The suspect would be in contact with the victim through Messenger application and eventually expressed his love, saying that he was coming to the country to get married and would bring expensive gifts or cash for the victim, before pretending to be arrested or the gifts were being held by Malaysian’s authorities.

Syndicate members would then impersonate authorities and contact the victim to notify them that their lover has been held for carrying a lot of foreign currency or payment is needed to claim the gifts.

The victim would be asked to make payments to an account to release their ‘lover’ or the gifts, and once payment were made, the suspect would no longer be contactable.

Alarmed by the rising cases reported lately, Sinar Daily talked to three experts to share their thoughts on what constitutes a scammer, in hope that it would raise more awareness of love scam and what to do if you felt that you were falling victim and reduce the number of scam cases in the country.

Criminologist and senior lecturer at Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Law Dr Haezreena Begum Abdul Hamid.

Criminologist and senior lecturer at Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Law Dr Haezreena Begum Abdul Hamid.

Concurring Xiuli’s view, criminologist and senior lecturer at Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Law Dr Haezreena Begum Abdul Hamid said the term stranger danger went a long way and should be applied in the physical world and online.

“Scammers usually catfish their victims to get money out of them. Someone with good intention would not easily ask strangers for money no matter the circumstances they are in,” she said.

When facing a questionable situation, Haezreena advised the public to save the picture used by the other party on their social media profile and conduct a search on Google Images to see if there was a match.

Alternatively, she said, one could request a video call to verify that they talked to an individual who matched the profile description.

“Beware of blurry photos and images, if their lines keep getting disconnected (during a video call), or if they keep saying that they are shy – that should sound alarm bells.

“Scammers may even say that their internet line is unstable to justify the blurry images but remember, if they can contact you via social media which requires an internet connection, they can definitely show themselves (on a video call),” Haezreena said.

She added one could also analyse the language and accent used especially if the person claimed that they were from United Kingdom or other foreign countries, they should have at least a slight accent.

Talking to another expert, University of Science Malaysia Professor Dr Intan Hashimah Mohd Hashim highlighted it was crucial for someone to always verify the information provided.

It would not hurt to read up on scammer’s strategies online to assess whether or not the person you suspect to be a scammer is using them – especially if it will save you from huge financial losses.

To know if you are being scammed, Dr Haezreena Begum shared one last golden rule for those who are at risk.

“If you met someone who is too good to be true, chances are they are not,” she said.

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