Online daters are being warned about a new scam involving dodgy business investments and “real life” meetings, which resulted in a Vietnamese woman losing $67,000 of her life savings.
The female victim, Melissa*, originally met “William” on an undisclosed Internet site who claimed he was from the United Kingdom. After grooming her online, he then requested her assistance in completing paperwork and contributing funds to a false business venture.
After transferring an initial amount of $2,100 to her online Date (for investment and transferring charges), Melissa was told by William that he would be sending his associate, known as “John” to meet her at a local hotel. During the meeting, she was told John would be bringing with him a suitcase containing a cash return for investment in the false business venture, in the amount of $1.5 million.
Incredibly, the female victim met with “John” who showed her a suitcase full of cash notes which were dyed black. He explained the requirement for the notes to be black in order to safely transport them through customs without raising suspicion.
Whilst in her presence, he soaked two $100 banknotes into a glass containing chemicals, which returned the notes to their normal state. Melissa further had the notes tested at a local currency exchange outlet.
Returning to see John the following day, and now convinced the notes were genuine, she was requested to provide $50,000 of her own money to purchase further chemicals in order to “wash” the money and return the to their natural state.
After paying a total of $52,100, Melissa attempted to meet John again only to be greeted by an unknown male of African origin who advised John had been ‘arrested’ while purchasing the alleged illegal chemicals.
She was requested to pay a further $15,000 in order to buy the chemicals directly from him. After Melissa paid the additional fees, she was provided with a suitcase full of the blackened notes.
Several days later, further tests on the money contained within the suitcase confirmed they were counterfeit.
Anyone who has been approached by individuals online to ‘invest’ in a business venture are urged to carry out all necessary identity verification and due diligence checks prior to transferring any funds or meeting in person.
*Names have been changed.