Petaling Jaya – Internet scams are well-known and not many people will fall for absurd claims of outrageous rewards for very little effort on the part of the victim.
But it persists, and for a reason: every now and then, it works.
A doctor at a public hospital, who has parted with her life savings of RM1.5 million, is a fine example of an easy mark on an Internet dating site.
She was first love-bombed. A purported American Allen J. Ackermann said everything she wanted to hear, she needed to hear. Then it happened.
In her police report, the doctor said they met on Shaadi.com, a dating agency, in May last year and became friendly.
Ackermann asked her first for a friendly loan of US$5,000 (RM16,332) and later £1,000 (RM5,277) which he agreed to repay in three weeks but did not despite a so-called lawyer’s agreement.
After the payments were made through telegraphic transfer and Western Union, he could not be contacted through email or phone.
Enter Ramon Young, supposedly another American whom she also met on Shaadi.com and she asked him if he could help locate Ackermann.
Young said his sister, Dotty, who works in the social security office in Oklahoma, US, could help.
Instead, Young helped himself to US$120,000 (RM391,980).
Then, a lawyer, Dorothy Watson from Texas, informed her that Young had been arrested and all his assets frozen.
Watson wanted the doctor to give her power of attorney to represent her in the case against Young and get compensation of US$150,000 (RM490,981) from the court. The doctor obliged.
The doctor told police she then came across Jimmy Kossoko, claiming to be Canadian, whom she met on Shaadi.com a few years ago.
When she told Kossoko she had been cheated by two men, he offered to get an FBI agent friend Janet Hans based in Denmark.
Hans received about US$16,000 (RM52,361) for her investigations, which included sending a Nigerian FBI agent to South Africa.
The doctor was then informed that Hans suddenly died of cancer in May, while Ackerman and Young were arrested.
Kossoko then convinced the doctor that Hans had managed to get her a compensation fund of US$580,000 (RM1.9 million).
Danish citizen Jacob Monberg supposedly working in the foreign remittance department in Nordea bank, Denmark, sent the doctor emails asking for a non-refundable US$90,000 (RM294,000) for various documents. She paid.
Supposed Briton Johnson Mason then joins the party.
He called the doctor on her mobile phone to tell her he has been sent by the international tax clearance department in Denmark to facilitate the money transfer of the compensation fund to her bank accounts in Malaysia.
The compensation fund, he said, had been sent to a safety vault at a local bank and asked her to pay for international tax clearance document, which was refundable by the international tax clearance department.
She paid but then he wanted payments for processing and stamp duty fees.
Mason said Bank Negara demanded for patriot act indemnity bond.
So did Denmark. She paid.
Then there was a payment to be made to Malaysia’s Finance Ministry for “foreign exchange allocation”.
She took a bank loan of about RM200,000 to make the payment into the account of a Malaysian living in Ipoh.
The doctor told police she was supposed to receive US$1,504,900 (RM5 million) compensation but she was asked to pay more for various reasons.
The scammers have sent her pictures of the cash kept in a bank’s safety vault, a certificate of ownership of gold bars, which came with demand for an additional RM3.5 million — and she’s being endlessly harassed.
The doctor received a text message yesterday asking her to make another huge payment, within 24 hours, to be eligible for RM11 million, which will be credited to her account.