Due to the nature of online dating, the people you meet on these platforms may not be who they say they are.
That lady you’ve been speaking to for the last 6 months may be a man who wants to make some extra cash.
That man you’ve been speaking to for the last 2 years may be a cat who recently became literate.
And that cat you’ve been speaking to may be- wait, why are you talking to a cat on an online dating plat-
Reader: It’s 2020, don’t judge.
The point is that many lonely romantics have been duped by people online who promised them love and a new life.
M’sian Scammed $20,000 By Fake Desmond Tan & Even ‘Dated’ Him Online for 8 Months
A Malaysian woman living in Johor Bahru was scammed out of S$20,000 by a man online who claimed to be her idol Desmond Tan, reported AsiaOne.
No, not that Desmond Tan. Desmond Tan the local Mediacorp actor.
The 50-year-old woman, Kai Li, said she received a private Facebook message from Imposter Tan on 4 October last year.
“He thanked me for my years of support, and I was ecstatic! I’ve supported him since he took part in Star Search and every one of his dramas, and I’m his number one fan.”
She added that she believed it was really Tan because the message came from his verified account.
After asking Lai to continue their conversation on Line and WeChat, Imposter Tan turned on the charm, calling her “baby” and “dear” and telling her he loved her.
Eventually, a relationship blossomed.
A Costly Affair
One week later, Imposter Tan asked the woman if they wanted to meet in Shanghai, and said that she would only have to pay 30% of the expenses, which amounted to RM7,000 (S$2280).
That’s a pretty decent deal, right? Only 30%?
“However, the trip didn’t pan out, and I couldn’t get back the money that I transferred over.”
Imposter Tan claimed that his management agency had made a mistake about the trip, and asked her to transfer another RM3,000 (S$976) to him because of financial troubles, which she did.
A rich actor who I’ve never personally met is now asking me for money because he has financial difficulties?
That should have been a red flag, but the woman continued to send him money.
First, he asked for another RM10,000 (S$3257) so they could meet in Shanghai for Christmas, but this didn’t happen as well.
Then, he told Kai that he wanted to terminate his contract with his management agency because they ‘ruined’ both their overseas trips.
To “free” himself from the contract, so they could meet face to face, he asked her for a staggering RM40,000 (S$13,030), and she acceded.
According to AsiaOne, the woman pawned her jewellery, sold her car, and even borrowed from loan sharks over the course of their 8-month relationship to send him a total of RM60,000 (S$19,545).
Heartbroken When She Learned the Truth
When she found out that she’d been scammed by an imposter, Kai was, understandably, heartbroken, and blamed herself for being foolish.
Unlike many other victims, however, Kai may have had more of a reason to believe this imposter, as he reportedly hacked into Desmond’s Facebook account to send the first message to her.
When Tan was contacted to comment, he said he felt sorry for the woman.
“I’m worried that some fans may not be familiar with the internet and may believe what the scammers say, so I want to tell everyone that I will not use social media channels to communicate in private.”
Signs of a Love Scam
Some of you may call your exes scammers for running away with your hearts, but love scams are a genuine problem and reportedly on the rise.
To avoid being a victim, make sure to look out for these tell-tale signs:
- Friend requests from strangers on Facebook, WeChat and iAround, especially if they are offering escort, massage or sexual services
- They profess strong feelings for you quickly after befriending you and who want to chat with you privately
- Poorly written messages. Some might even refer to you by the wrong name
- Repeated requests for favours or money
The last one is especially important. Anytime an online date asks you for money, alarm bells and not wedding bells should be going off in your head.
The best way to smoke out a scammer is to invite them to a video chat. It’ll be a tough task to look like Desmond Tan on Zoom, no matter how skilled the scammer is.
To know more about scams, watch these videos we’ve done in collaboration with the Singapore Police Force (and subscribe to our YouTube channel, please?):