Internet Love Scam Cheated Singaporean Women of $24m. Are You Dating Someone Online?

internet love scam in singapore
Illustration by: Celine Loup

Online scams involving love and lust can be confusing since it is so lucrative that scammers are finding all sorts of ways to cheat your money. Apart from the Credit-For-Sex and Cyber Sextortion scams, one other highly emotionally manipulative scam is the Internet Love Scam.

What is Internet Love Scam?

Internet Love Scam fraudsters often lurk on social media applications like Facebook and WeChat; and online dating sites such as Paktor and Tinder, to prey on individuals looking for companionship. In a recent case reported by The New Paper, *Mary lost 1.2 million in an internet love scam to a man who falsely identified himself.

The mother of 4 was befriended by Tom on Facebook who claimed he was an American engineer and investor. Blinded by the false promise that he would come to Singapore for a visit, she developed a romantic relationship with him. A month into the relationship, Tom told Mary that he was coming to live with her and to help him link up with banks and hunt for apartments. He linked her up with an intermediary named John and the elaborate scheme continued with Mary transferring more money into the bank accounts. When her bank account ran low, she took out unsecured bank loans and even her insurance plans. Eventually her family confronted her on the bank loans when they found out and it was then that she realised she was a victim in an internet love scam.

*Name changed to protect victim’s identity

Online Dating Safety Tips

There are more people like Mary who have lost their life savings by unscrupulous individuals when looking for love online. Yet it is difficult to meet new people in your everyday life without resorting to online dating portals. How do you protect yourself from becoming an Internet Love Scam victim?

Read also: Scammers are using bots in dating apps like Tinder to get you to install malware on your computers. Could your Tinder match be a scam bot?

  1. Watch for Red Flags

    Look out for tell-tale signs of a fake persona in the form of generic profile pictures gathered from Google and poor grammar that does not match their educational level.

  2. Be in Control of Emotions

    If asked for money, keep a cool head and be in control of your emotions being mindful that it could possibly be a love scam.

  3. Do Not Reveal Too Much About Yourself

    Do not give too much information about yourself to the other party in the form of pictures, videos and personal data in case you are blackmailed in the future.

  4. Report Fake Accounts

    Contact the police and the administrators of the application if you suspect that the account is fake and malicious.

Despite taking all the steps above, there may be situations in which the scammer can get the better of you. Thankfully, LeoProtect provides comprehensive insurance to cover you should fraudsters blackmail you or ruin your e-reputation.

Scam 101” is a series by LeoProtect that aims to heighten awareness of the type of scams that occur on the World Wide Web.