A woman from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast has been duped by an “online lover” into handing over her bank details, allowing scammers to deposit $6 million they had just swindled from a South Korean business, police say.
- South Africa scammers posed as a love interest to the 60yo Nambour woman
- The scammers hacked into emails of a South Korean business to defraud them of $6 million
- Money was transferred to the Nambour woman who had no idea she was part of the online scam
The 60-year-old woman, from Nambour, was told by the scammers that she had to “remove” $330,000 from the transaction, so she bought a $134,000 4WD, Detective Senior Sergeant Daren Edwards said.
Then, unaware that she was in the middle of a scam, Detective Senior Sergeant Edwards said the woman began transferring $2 million to her so-called lover.
Officers caught up with her on Tuesday, when she explained how she was caught up in the ordeal.
According to the woman, she had befriended a person purporting to be an American man on an online dating website 18 months ago.
Over a period of time she was convinced to send $100,000 of her own money to the scammer, including her superannuation and proceeds from the sale of her two cars.
Hackers steal millions from international businesses
The offenders, believed to be residing in South Africa, then deposited $6 million into her bank account on June 11.
The scammers had swindled the money after hacking a business’s email and changing bank account details on a transaction that had already been approved.
Police and foreign banks were able to intercept and recover $5.7 million but work is still underway to identify where the remaining money has gone.
Detective Senior Sergeant Edwards said the woman has subsequently relinquished ownership of the car, which has been towed to a police holding yard.
He said at this stage she has been served with a fraud warning letter and was unlikely to recoup the money she herself lost.
‘I think it’s just blatant stupidity’
While being wooed by the scammer, the woman had viewed over the internet what was a fake driver’s license and US passports, she had also recorded conversations.
When investigators listened to the recordings, Detective Senior Sergeant Edwards said it seemed obvious the online boyfriend was not American, but South African.
“You’re supposed to be a person of some worldly skills, and by one interaction through a photograph on a dating site from someone overseas that entices you to do everything,” he said.
“I think it’s just blatant stupidity — there’s no other word for it.
“If you send one dollar to a person where you cannot establish them being a person in real life, that is face-to-face, you are starting a path to disaster with serious repercussions.
“[We are also] talking about men, 60-year-olds, probably aren’t particularly great looking and they’re communicating with a blonde 20-year-old in Russia or somewhere else, thinking that ‘I’m sending her $5,000 so she can fly out and see me’.
“You’ve got to be kidding yourself.
“It is also important that any business which receives advice via email or other interaction of a changed bank account by a company they are dealing with, that they use some due diligence.”