Malaysia’s good internet infrastructure and advanced banking system has made it a haven for cybercrime, especially for African conmen who are bilking American women out of their hard-earned savings.
According to the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur, there are more than 600 cases each year, with losses amounting to several million dollars annually. On average, victims are swindled out of tens of thousands of dollars, but in the last 12 months, two women lost more than US$250,000 each.
“These are not rich widows who are being preyed on, these are middle-class Americans who don’t have this kind of money to spare,” said the embassy’s Consul General Tim Scherer.
The modus operandi of these cyber criminals, who are mostly Nigerians, is to contact lonely middle-aged women via dating or Christian websites. Impersonating a Western man, they tell the victim that they cannot return back to the US due to legal or business problems in Malaysia.
One victim told Reuters she wired a total of US$260,000 to her would-be lover so that he could settle his problems with the Malaysian government and return home.
The 59-year-old Arizona widow borrowed a huge amount of money in order to help “Charles”. She even went to Malaysia in March to meet him personally. The man didn’t show up, but a European woman alleging to be his attorney managed to defraud her of US$25,000.
Another lady in her late 50s revealed that she transferred her life savings of US$300,000 over the span of two months to an American man working in Malaysia, who she met on dating portal Match.com.