TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Taipei man transferred nearly NT$3 million (US$108,000) to a purportedly female online friend who asked for his support using various excuses over more than one and a half years, but it turned out he had been corresponding with another man.
In a press release, the Taipei City Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division said on Sunday (Jan. 23) that it received a report from a man in September last year, alleging that a “female” netizen with a nice looking Facebook cover photo befriended him in May 2020, CNA reported. Since then, they often sent messages to each other via communication software or talked online.
The man said he fell in love with the online scammer without realizing he was actually falling into a trap.
After an initial investigation, police said the scam could be the work of a fraud ring and referred the case to the Taipei District Prosecutors Office. The prosecutors’ office then cooperated with Taichung police to form an ad hoc committee to investigate the case.
The committee found the fraud ring had been stealing photos of women online and using them as Facebook cover photos to apply for phony Facebook accounts, with which to randomly befriend and accost male users, the report said. After having developed affection from the victim and earning their trust, the con artist would begin to swindle money out of the victim by deploying a variety of conversation tactics.
The scammer in the case began to ask the victim to lend them money to pay for their living expenses, school meals, classes, and debts owed to underground loan houses, as well as for other things.
The victim transferred a total of nearly NT$3 million to the account designated by the online lover over a number of times until August last year, when the victim realized he might have been conned, as he was cut off by the online lover after refusing a request for a large amount of money, per CNA.
The ad hoc committee was able to analyze a variety of data, linked it to four suspects, and arrested them from October last year to January this year.
Further police investigation found that among the four suspects, a 24-year-old man, surnamed Lin (林), was the one who had been texting with the victim and faking a female’s voice to talk with him online, per CNA.
Police found another man had also fallen prey to the same fraud ring, and are investigating into whether there are more victims. The four will be referred to the prosecutors’ office on suspicion of having committed fraud and money laundering, the report said, citing the press release.