A Hong Kong lady now regrets having trusted and fallen in love with a man she met on social media.
Her lover turned out to be a scam artist who swindled her and vanished with her mother’s hard-earned savings of HK$3.6 million, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The 24-year-old victim, surnamed Sin, told police that she had met a mainland man through a social networking platform for single people, which is run by internet giant Baidu, according to Ming Pao Daily.
Sin, who lives with her family in a village house in Lok Ma Chau, said the man introduced himself as Thomas, a designer living in Fairview Park in Yuen Long.
Things went well between them, and soon they became lovers.
During one of their conversations, Sin told the man that her family was planning to buy a new home but they did not have enough money.
The man then volunteered that he knew of several investment opportunities that could help her raise more money.
Sin discussed the matter with her 26-year-old sister, and they decided to take out their mother’s savings for the man to invest on their behalf.
But soon after the man got hold of the money, he disappeared without a trace.
The two sisters told their brother about the situation, and their brother immediately realized that they had been swindled and reported the case to the police on Tuesday morning.
Their mother almost fainted after learning about what happened to her lifetime savings.
Cecilia Ng Kam-kuen, who is in charge of Youthline counselling service at the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, said Sin had fallen into a trap set up by a mainland “catfish”, or one who creates a false online identity to lure victims into a romantic relationship in order to defraud them.
Ng urged social media users to be very careful about the people they meet online, and to keep their money out of any relationship they establish through the internet.
According to police records, at least 28 fraud cases in which online romance seekers were victimized were reported in the first three months of the year, up from just nine in the same period a year earlier.
The cases involved the loss of HK$19.23 million, up 4.5 times from a year earlier, Apple Daily reported.
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