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Millions of people turn to online dating apps or social networking sites to meet someone.
But many find scammers trying to trick them into sending money instead of finding romance.
One such victim was an elderly man in his 70s who almost lost SGD150,000 (RM483,735) of his to online fraudsters.
His ‘girlfriend from the Netherlands’ had asked him to send the money to an offshore account.
The man tried to make the transaction at United Overseas Bank Limited, often known as UOB.
Thankfully, a bank employee who suspected something fishy saved him in the nick of time.
Straits Times reported that the bank’s service associate Jenny Hong got suspicious, as the account holder’s name and the account number did not match.
When Hong asked the man why he needed to send money to the overseas account, he became unsettled.
It was odd because he was trying to bank in such a large amount of money into an account that was not his. He kept saying it was very urgent and when I asked him more about it, his answers grew more and more incoherent.
UOB service associate Jenny Hong to Straits Times on her interaction with the bank customer.
Hong, who has over 27 years of experience working for UOB, dutifully alerted the bank’s assistant branch manager Alison Cheng.
Cheng tried to help the man realise that he was being scammed and talked him out of his intention to send the money.
I asked if he had seen scam articles in the news. He said yes, but insisted he was not being scammed. He said it was love and his girlfriend needed the money urgently.
UOB assistant branch manager Alison Cheng to Straits Times on helping the man to come to his senses.
The effort was not wasted as the man suddenly changed his mind and cancelled the transaction.
The man also lodged a police report.
Anyone Can Be Scammed
Online dating has been around for some time.
Anyone can fall for a scam, regardless of age, gender, race, income or education level.
In recent years, victims were also forced into human trafficking and worked for the syndicates themselves.
READ MORE: [Watch] Trainee Teacher Dies In Thailand Due To Online Dating Scam, Father Tells Young Malaysians To Be Down-To-Earth
Romance scams occur when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust.
#relationshipscams | #dating | Syndicate that conned 139 women in love scams busted in joint operation across Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia and Singapore, Asia News https://t.co/ugDfHjDuQe pic.twitter.com/RlMPzSIXeq
— DatingScams101 (@datingscams101) November 29, 2019
What are the signs of an online dating scammer?
Here are five tell-tale signs to help you spot a romance scam.
- The scammer is quick to call it love.
- The scammer’s profile contains vague or few images across platforms.
- The scammer asks for money.
- Allow relationships to develop slowly and naturally.
- Set up a video chat to verify their identity.
Romance scams can lead people to give hundreds or thousands of dollars to someone they have met online. A cybersecurity expert shares insights on why some people become victims of online dating scams, and what can be done to prevent it. https://t.co/bwnLNbEaN6 pic.twitter.com/Zx4zWga4wf
— Laurence Duarte (@LaurenceDuarte) September 17, 2022
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