AN AMERICAN woman has reported to the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur after being scammed by several men into wiring and handing over at least US$285,000.
The 77-year-old arrived in Malaysia on July 23, where she met up with a man who promised to take her to the supposed “dashing construction tycoon” who had courted her online. According to local newspaper The Star, the retiree’s luggage, identification and travel documents were stolen by the man.
Police raided a property in suburban Kuala Lumpur and arrested two suspects of African descent aged 26 and 33, seizing US$30,000, mobile phones and a car. The men are said to have lived in Malaysia since 2015 on tourist visas.
“We also managed to extract (online) conversations between the suspects and the victim. Based on the scripts, it was evident they were experts at manipulating victims by sending them sweet and passionate love letters via e-mail,” police spokesman Mohd Sakri Arifin said.
The men also reportedly told the victim she could double her money if she invested in the “tycoon’s” business.
In 2014, United States authorities said hundreds of American women were being duped by Internet scammers in Malaysia. Losing amounts of money in excess of a quarter of a million dollars is not uncommon.
Those responsible are largely Nigerian conmen on student visas, said the US, who prey on lonely, middle-aged women whom they meet on dating websites before requesting large sums of money.
Malaysian police said in March 2016, online scams were on an “upward trend” because of an “influx of foreign cyber criminals”. In 2015, Malaysian women purportedly lost RM71 million (US$16.5 million) through similar dating scams.
“Never make such transactions when you have not even met your ‘sweetheart’ in person,” Sakri said last week.