A love-struck 65-year-old cashier in Hong Kong has fallen prey to social media scammers who conned her out of more than HK$1 million (US$128,200) over nine months.
The local woman met a Facebook user who claimed to an American businessman in February last year and they soon became “cyber lovers”, a police source said on Thursday.
The “businessman” later told the woman he had sent her some gifts but customs in Malaysia had detained the parcels and he needed money to settle the tariff.
The woman remitted money 17 times to seven local bank accounts between March and December, according to a police spokesman.
She was later unable to get in touch with the businessman. The victim grew suspicious and approached police in January fearing she had been scammed.
On January 9, officers from Central police district arrested a 53-year-old local woman in Tsuen Wan when she went to a bank to transfer money from one of the accounts involved in the scam.
The woman was later released on bail and must report back to police next month.
Police are hunting others involved in the case which has been classified as obtaining property by deception.
The number of social media scams in the city almost doubled last year despite police reporting the lowest crime rate in 48 years. Financial losses from the 2,064 reported cases of fraud totalled HK$500 million, 2½ times more than in 2017.
A 66-year-old businesswoman became Hong Kong’s biggest victim of an online romance scam when she was duped out of HK$180 million over four years from April 2014 by an “engineer from Britain”.