updated 4 Jun 2012, 18:09
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Housewife sent online lover $168k

JANE, a housewife in her early 50s, was bored and lonely in Jakarta, while her husband and children were overseas.

She turned to chat rooms to fight her loneliness and met a man, who claimed to be a brigadier-general in the United States Army. This was in mid-2008.

Jane grew close to him and the man told her that he was based in Iraq.

To make it more convincing, the "Brigadier-General" would tell Jane about the battles he had fought.

"He must have read thoroughly about the war and kept himself abreast with what was happening there because he knew what to tell me and it sounded so real."

The man would send newspaper clippings, allegedly featuring him, to cement his claims further.

"I later discovered that these pictures were readily available on the Internet."

They continued to chat regularly and Jane felt like she had found a kindred soul.

A year-and-a-half later, the man told her that he was fed up with the war and his life in Iraq. He wanted to move on.

"He told me that he had come into possession of US$20 million (S$25 million) in illicit money in Iraq, but had no access to his bank accounts in the US.

"He asked if I could set up accounts for him so that the money could be transferred, and that he would collect the money from me later."

By this time, Jane trusted the man completely and did not question him.

"I trusted him fully. I would send money to various overseas accounts and would receive emails acknowledging the receipt of the money and confirmation that the account had been opened.

"The emails were purportedly from overseas banks and they looked legitimate.

"In the meantime, my online lover kept asking me for more money to clear Customs and bribe officials so that he could transfer his stash," she said.

Jane depleted her savings of RM416,000 (S$168,937) in 30 to 40 payments over a six-month period.

"I once became a bit fed-up over the amount of money I was sending, but he used guilt to make me feel bad," she added.

The man then told Jane that the last stop for the money transfer would be Malaysia and she asked for her sister's help to set up an account in a local bank here.

Her sister consulted her family who became suspicious and told Jane that she was being cheated.

Jane then flew to Kuala Lumpur where her lover was supposedly going to send someone to meet her.

By then, she smelt a rat and went to the police to set a trap.

The police arrested a Nigerian but till today Jane does not know if this was the same person she had been in contact with for more than a year.

In the meantime, the "Brigadier-General" had stopped calling.

"I was so humiliated as my family came to know the whole story."

Jane, however, chalked up her experience as a lesson well-learnt.

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