Single Mum Loses Over S$100,000 In Internet Love Scam

Shreya Jagdish

A 50-year-old single mother from Malaysia has lost over RM300,000 (S$124,100) in a year after falling in love with a scammer—a man who claimed to live in the United States.

The woman, who wanted to be known as Lee, sold her house to raise money for the man when he said he was detained by the Malaysian Customs Department after supposedly trying to bring in RM800 million (S$261 million) worth of gifts for her.

According to the local Star News network, Lee met the man known as Kenneth Cheung on Facebook in October last year. 

Despite not meeting Kenneth personally or going through any wedding ceremony, Lee considers him her “husband.”

Source: file photo

Husband “arrested” by Immigration Department 

During a press conference, Lee revealed that she received a call from a customs agent who said that her husband was arrested by the Immigration Department.

In order to release him, the agent instructed Lee to transfer a total of RM380,000 in cash as tax payments for the gifts.

During this time, Lee said that she made 11 payments to numerous bank accounts.

However, despite making all the money, she still did not receive any of her husband’s gifts.

Lee then lodged a police complaint accusing the customs agent of scamming her. 

Lee’s complaint was then picked up by Stulang assemblyman Andrew Chen who organised a press conference. 

Still in love with her ‘husband’ 

Despite selling her house amongst other things to release her husband, Lee refuses to believe that she has been scammed by him. 

Even when Chen told her that she might have been a victim of an online scam, she dismissed the idea by saying that Kenneth is a ‘genuine person’ and it is the customs agent that is at fault.

Since the incident, Chen has advised Lee to stop sending money to her husband. He added that Lee is now living with her sister after running out of money.

The assemblyman also urged the public to practise discretion when meeting strangers online who offer to give gifts.

The Malaysian police are currently investigating the case. 

Internet love scam

Source: iStock

In Singapore, internet love scam cases have increased by 6% in the past year and the total amount of money cheated by scammers rose from S$11.7 million in the first half of 2018 to S$17.1 million in the first half of 2019.

The National Crime Prevention Council have noted that scammers often target emotionally vulnerable victims such as those who just ended a relationship by telling them an elaborate tale about falling into troubled or hard times and then asking for money as proof of love. 

Once the victim transfers them the money, the scammers disappear without any trace.

Signs of internet love scam:

  • A stranger who is usually a foreigner sends you a friend request
  • Poor grammar that does not fit his/her educational background
  • Strangers that shower you with love or professing strong feelings despite only knowing you for a short period of time 
  • Fake photo 
  • Refuses to meet you or do video call 

How to protect yourself: 

Source: iStock

  • Never respond to any requests for money, no matter how troubled or desperate he/she sounds
  • Call a close friend or relative to talk before you do anything 
  • Do not reveal too much about yourself (e.g. photos, address, videos) as these can be used to blackmail you 

If you or your loved one is being scammed, please call the Police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness.

You may also call the Anti-Scam Helpline at 1800-722-6688 for scam-related advice.

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