‘It’s too bizarre’: Besotted Chinese woman conned out of US$287,000 in 12-year love scam by old friend with a grudge posing as famous TV news anchor

During a more than decade-long ‘romance’, the victim never met fake TV anchor once and said when she saw ‘him’ on screen it allayed any suspicions she had. Perpetrator cooked up the scam to take revenge on victim’s mother who told her she wasn’t pretty or rich enough to find a husband. — SCMP

A Shanghai woman has been conned out of nearly 2mil yuan (US$287,000 or RM1.26mil) in a love scam which lasted more than a decade perpetrated by an old friend with a grudge who posed as a well-known TV news anchor.

Mainland media reported that the victim, surnamed Li, was so besotted by the “celebrity” – who she never met over the whole 12-year period of their fake relationship – that she handed money over to “him”.

All along, the person she was communicating with was a childhood female friend, surnamed Yu, the Haibao News reported.

Yu, who has been detained by the police on suspicion of fraud, came up with the scam to take revenge on Li’s mother who in 2010 told her, “You don’t look pretty, and your family is not well-off, so you may have trouble finding a husband,” the news outlet said, quoting police from Shanghai’s Putuo district.

The victim of the 12-year-long online love scam shows some of the phone messages she received from the fake TV news anchor. Photo: Weibo

Taking the comment as a curse, Yu decided to exact her revenge on its author by designing a scam which would prevent the woman’s daughter from getting married, she confessed to police.

Pretending to be a friend of a famous news anchor, Yu concocted a bogus “introduction” which would allow Li to meet the “TV anchor” online and began a “romantic relationship” with her via another mobile phone number.

Li never met her “boyfriend” because every time she asked for a real date, Yu would come up with various excuses such as business trips or overtime at work.

Li said she became suspicious from time to time but when she saw the anchor on TV, her faith in the “relationship” was restored.

The fake boyfriend began asking Li for money when Yu developed a serious illness and was in financial trouble in 2018.

Chat interactions were integral to the US$287,000 online love scam perpetrated by an old friend of the victim. Photo: Weibo.

Similar requests for cash followed over the next few years after Yu recovered from her illness, the medical costs of which were funded by money from Li.

In total, Yu received almost 2mil yuan (RM1.26mil) from her love-struck friend. This included all her savings and money borrowed from others.

Debt-ridden, Li went to Yu to ask for her help to meet the man in person on November 20. Realising she could hide no longer, Yu told her the truth, after which Li called the police.

Despite the fact that online romance scams are not uncommon in China, the case has shocked netizens.

“It’s too bizarre, online scammers are becoming more sophisticated,” one said.

In another case, a married woman dated 11 men online using fake identities between 2018 and last year, tricking them out of a total of more than 270,000 yuan (US$39,000 or RM171,148) in total, according to a court case revealed by official media Procuratorate Daily last week.

The victims never met their “girlfriend” offline and the scam was only busted when one of them got suspicious as she kept borrowing money from him but refused to show up. – South China Morning Post

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