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A woman has found herself penniless and in debt after falling victim to online love scams not once but twice.
The middle-aged retiree was cheated of $1,300 by a scammer last year and had even sent him nude photos. She lost more than $14,000 to a second scammer this year.
Ms Wang told Shin Min Daily News that she had met a man named Andy through Facebook in June last year. After chatting for five months, Andy asked her to help him buy a $50 iTunes gift card.
She was not familiar with the gift card but did as Andy instructed, purchasing a $250 gift card.
On one occasion, Ms Wang went to Orchard Road to buy an iTunes gift card, which Andy then claimed had expired. She returned to the convenience store, where she got into a dispute with staff. Police were called to the scene and warned her about being scammed, but she refused to listen.
During their 'relationship', Andy also asked Ms Wang for intimate pictures of herself. Not thinking much of it, she sent him a few nude pictures without her face.
Ms Wang only realised that she had indeed been scammed when Andy continued asking her for more money while postponing their meetup. By then, she had lost $1,300.
When she confronted him, Andy threatened to send Ms Wang's nude photos to her ex-husband and son unless she bought him a $500 iTunes gift card.
Ms Wang panicked and contacted the police, but was advised to ignore the scammer's texts. Andy eventually gave up.
On May this year, Ms Wang got to know a man named Alvin, again through Facebook. He claimed that his father was Korean while his mother was from Penang, and said he was living in Sydney.
According to Ms Wang, Alvin had a gentle temperament and showed keen interest in her life. She also told him about her earlier scam experience and said she would end their friendship if he wanted to talk about money.
However, Alvin claimed to be a investment scam victim.
The two got along well, with Ms Wang starting to trust and admire Alvin.
Alvin then said that he had a project in Thailand and needed Ms Wang's help to check the price of polycarbonate. He gave her the contact of a company, which she looked up and confirmed to be legitimate. She got in touch with the company and ordered 200kg of materials, which Alvin paid for.
After two consecutive transactions, Alvin said he needed to purchase another 100kg of materials but only had AUD53,000 (about S$47,000). He claimed that he could not even foot half the bill and sought Ms Wang's help.
Ms Wang liaised with the company and got the goods, but was told that she needed to pay shipping and handling fees. As such, she remitted S$6,155 to the company.
Alvin subsequently said he needed RM53,000 (around S$15,600) to buy thinner. However, Ms Wang said she had no money and negotiated with the company to buy the goods at half the price.
On June 27, Ms Wang spent $650 to fly to Bangkok. She wanted to see Alvin and the construction site for herself before lending him money. However, Alvin kept trying to evade her attempts to meet.
Meanwhile, the company kept putting pressure on Ms Wang by saying that other customers also wanted thinner and asked her for a deposit to 'lock' her order.
She paid the company $2,000 and $6,000, after borrowing $3,000 from her fellow church members and pastor as well as $5,000 from relatives and friends.
Defeated, Ms Wang eventually flew back to Singapore. She called Alvin a scammer and sent text messages cursing him, only for him to reply, "Yes, I am a scammer, what can you do to me?"
In response to media queries, the police confirmed that a report was lodged and investigations are ongoing.
Ms Wang said that although relatives and friends have told her that there is no need for her to pay them back, she wants to bear the consequences of her actions and is determined to repay her debt.