Monday, June 21, 2010

73-year-old woman loses RM155,000 to ‘lover’

73-year-old woman loses RM155,000 to ‘lover’
By ANDREA FILMER
andrea@thestar.com.my

Tuesday June 22, 2010

GEORGE TOWN: A 73-year-old woman was swindled of RM155,000 in an Internet love scam by a Nigerian syndicate that has been busted by police.

She was the latest victim of the syndicate, which had cheated 110 other women over the last two years of about RM1.35mil.

The other victims included teachers, a lawyer and an engineer who were cheated of money from as little as RM5,000.

Penang deputy police chief Senior Asst Comm (I) Datuk Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah said the Nigerians had posed as handsome British men, courting their victims, who were all single Penang women, through online chats.

“They took the time to win over the women’s hearts and trust, sometimes to the extent of proposing marriage,” SAC Tun Hishan told a press conference here yesterday.

After about two months of courting, the “British men” conveyed their intention to send the women gifts in the form of laptop computers, mobile phones and cash in American currency.

“The women then received calls from a local woman impersonating a Customs officer, telling them that the parcel had been held up for Customs checks.

“They told the victims that a penalty had to be paid and provided them with bank accounts to pay the fine,” SAC Tun Hisan said.

He said the “British men” and parcels disappeared after the victims banked in the money.

He said the majority of the victims were aged between 20 and 50. Half of them are believed to be college and university students.

The syndicate was busted last Friday when police arrested 11 Nigerian men and three local women in raids on two houses in Seberang Prai and Butterworth after a month of surveillance.

Two computer hard disks, two flash drives, six laptop computers, 36 mobile phones, RM849, US$1,546 (RM5,086), 1,000 (RM4.080) and 1,930 Nigerian nairas (RM41.45) were seized in the raids.

The suspects are aged between 25 and 38, and some of the Nigerians are enrolled as students in institutions of higher education in Penang.

“From documents we recovered, we feel there are more victims out there,” SAC Tun Hisan said.

He urged anyone who had been asked to deposit money into CIMB bank accounts 0733-0022708-4, 0733-0022691-52-3 or 0733-0024037-52-5 to come forward and assist police in investigations.

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