Editor’s Note: This story was submitted by a Hoax-Slayer reader as a warning to other Internet users. Names and other details have been changed to protect the privacy of the victim.
I’m stuck right now, I simply don’t know what to do but reading the stories on your site gives me a sense of clarity that I need to voice this out.
It all started when I met a man on a dating site on July 9, 2013. His name is Anthony. An engineer by profession, lives in New York, a widower and has a 9 year old daughter. He claimed that he was on a construction project on-going at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and he intends to see me once his project is done.
After a few days of exchanging emails through the dating site, he asked for my personal email address so it would be easier for us to communicate. He would send me emails every single day with words that would melt my heart and make me visualize a world that I could share with him. Eventually, we started chatting via Yahoo messenger and also talking on Skype almost every single day for more than an hour.
The first time I got suspicious was when he asked me to let him use my personal bank account for his business transactions. He said that his client would be sending him some funds for the purchase of materials in Singapore and all I needed to do was to give them the money. I was lured by his promises that the transaction was legitimate and he would never do anything to hurt or harm me. I gave in and sent him all the information that he requested.
Weeks had passed before an actual fund transfer took place. The money amounted to 61500 sgd. He instructed me to withdraw 50000 sgd and, on the same day, his partner came to my office and picked up the money. He told me to keep the rest of the money because he would be needing it once he came over here to be with me.
I was reluctant and kept questioning him about the purpose of the transaction. This put him in a defensive manner. Then, the next day he asked me to transfer some funds using the remaining money to Cairo, Egypt to be used for legal paperwork for the properties that he had acquired from his deceased father. I told him that I was not able to do the transaction because I had been warned by Western Union staff about this kind of scam and I had had enough of it. I told him off and said I will donate the money to a charity if he doesn’t find a way to get the remaining money from me.
The following day, a different person came to get the cash.
After a few days, I received a call from my bank asking me about the fund transfer in my account and was told that it had been recalled. I was told that I needed to return the money because there was an investigation being done. I called the bank the following day to confirm the call’s legitimacy and I was informed that there is an ongoing case and the right personnel will be contacting me.
I haven’t received another call from the local bank after the first encounter but I was surprised to receive an overseas call from Malaysia today from a man who introduced himself as an FBI agent. He mentioned that I’m innocent and I was used only to hoard money from other people using my bank account. The person who sent the money is filing a case against Anthony and my name is included as an accomplice. I was told that in order for me to be off the case I need to pay $1500 to register my innocence or else I will be arrested if proven guilty.
I’m torn whether I should seek legal advice or should I just report this right away to the police.
Jennifer inadvertently became involved in a scam designed to trick her into laundering the proceeds of crime. The criminals trick their victims into accepting fake or stolen cheques or allowing money from hijacked bank accounts to be transferred to them. Victims are then asked to send a portion of the funds via a transfer system such as Western Union. In this way, the criminals have effectively turned the proceeds of crime into untraceable cash while leaving their victim to face the legal and financial consequences. The criminals operating such money laundering schemes often use online dating as a means of finding new victims.
In this case, the criminal and his fellow scammers have attempted to extract even more money from Jennifer by pretending to be an FBI agent and demanding a payment to secure her innocence.