May 26, 2022

PETALING JAYA: Shocking as it may be, many people continue to fall for sweet talk and empty promises made over the phone or email, and end up parting with their money.

The popular assumption is that lonely single women are most vulnerable but records have shown that highly rational people with decent jobs and social life are equally vulnerable.

Such “love scams”, as they are popularly known, are rampant.

In 2019, a total of 1,535 cases were reported, averaging over four a day, according to police records. These victims were fleeced of a total of RM79.11 million that year. The number of scams rose marginally to 1,582 in 2020 but the total sum lost dropped to RM58.33 million.

Most of these cases involved women aged 30 to 60, according to criminologist Shankar Durairaja, many of them highly educated and successful in their careers.

The predators are mostly foreigners, with a large number of cases reportedly involving Nigerians.

The youngest known scammer was just 15 years old, Shankar told theSun.

Citing a 2019 report by analysts Azianura Hani Shaari, Mohammad Rahim Kamaluddin and Masnizah Mohd, Shankar said the scammers often assumed the personality of a professional European, with the use of a fake profile picture paired with exaggerated information of their supposed riches and luxurious lifestyle.

“If you look deeper, you’d realise they have few or no friends, or any friends they have are usually Asian men or women,” he said.

As cybersecurity expert Dr…

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