Published: Monday June 21, 2010 MYT 6:24:00 PM
Nigerian ‘love’ syndicate busted
By ANDREA FILMER
GEORGE TOWN: A 73-year-old woman was swindled of RM155,000 in an Internet love-scam by a Nigerian syndicate which has been busted by police.
She was the latest victim of the syndicate that had also cheated 110 other women over the last two years. The other victims included teachers, a lawyer and an engineer.
The syndicate was busted last Friday when police arrested 11 Nigerian men and three local women in raids on two houses in Seberang Prai and Butterworth after a month of surveillance.
Two hard disks, two pen drives, six laptops, 36 mobile phones and several thousands in ringgit, USD, euros and Nigerian naira were seized in the raids.
The suspects are aged between 25 and 38 and some of the Nigerians are enrolled as students in a public university, a private institute and a private college in Penang.
Penang deputy police chief Senior Asst Comm (I) Datuk Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah said the Nigerians had posed as handsome British men to court their victims.
He said they lured them into online conversations through pop-up windows and online chatting.
“They then took time to win over these women’s hearts and trust, sometimes to the extent of proposing marriage,” he told a press conference here Monday.
After about two months of courting, the ‘British men’ conveyed their intentions of sending the women gifts in the forms of laptops, mobile phones and cash in US dollars.
“The women then received calls from a local woman impersonating a Customs officer, telling them that the parcel had been held up in Customs.
“They told the victims that a penalty had to be paid and provided them with bank account numbers to pay in the fine,” SAC Tun Hisan said.
He said the victims had banked in sums ranging from RM5,000 to RM155,000, after which the ‘British men’ and parcels disappeared.
He said the victims were all single Penang women and that the majority of them were aged between 20 and 50. Half of them are believed to be college and university students.
A total of RM1.5mil worth of losses had been recorded since 2008.
“From documents we recovered, we feel there are many more victims out there,” SAC Tun Hisan said.
He urged anyone who had been asked to deposit money into CIMB bank accounts 0733-0022708-4, 0733-0022691-52-3 or 0733-0024037-52-5 to come forward and assist police in investigations.