Few days ago, I read an SCMP article that discussed on Hong Kong women being particularly vulnerable to online dating scams. Last year, 114 cases of online dating fraud were reported to the police, costing “victims” of HK$95 million. Scammers pose as Western professionals and woo their their victims for a few months until asking them for money. It’s always some “urgent” matter, like they have been detained by authorities.
How women are “cheated”
In all of these cases, the victims have never met the men. Most interesting was that some women even knew they were probably being lied to, but still fell victim to the scam anyways. They instinctively knew it was too good to be true, and that there was no such thing as Mr. Perfect, but they still sent their money to someone they never met. I wonder whether these are really “scams” if the victims knew what they were getting into.
Meanwhile, in real life…
If these “scams” took place in real life (as opposed to the internet) it would go like this. A woman meets a man. Man spends a few months to woo her by saying flowery words, taking her on dates, buying her expensive gifts (albeit with stolen credit cards). One day, he tells her that he was being chased by secret agents and needed money to “take care of things.” She might fall for it, no matter how silly the story was, because she’s “in love.”
Relationship “scams” are commonplace
How about a more “realistic” example. Rather than telling her that he’s a spy, she finds out that he’s deeply in debt because he has a gambling problem. First, he asks for HK$5,000, then HK$50,000 and then HK$100,000. Later, she finds out he owes HK$2 million to loan sharks. Knowing that he’s a compulsive gambler, the woman still gives him the money anyways, thinking that one day, he’ll “change.” Don’t be so naive.
Although internet “dating scams” appear to be more and more common, such “scams” have existed since men have started chasing women. Venue may have changed to cyberspace, but execution is the same. Man woos a woman, she falls in love, and he asks for money (or whatever he desires) and disappears. In many instances, even if the women instinctively knew that they were being lied to, they chose to live in their own illusions.