Man lost $11k in love hoax

A Mid West man who sent more than $11,000 to a woman he thought was in love with him in Malaysia has warned online daters to be wary of costly love traps.

The warning comes as Consumer Protection revealed a surge in online scams through cloned Facebook accounts and emails belonging to people in the Mid West.

A Geraldton woman lost $1000 in a Facebook scam last weekend.

The romance scam victim, who withheld his name, sent more than $11,000 in two transfers to a Malaysian bank account after he met a woman online.

He exchanged emails and Skype conversations with the woman over six weeks and she also sent him photos.

The man said he met the woman on dating website RSVP.com.au.

The woman claimed she was an Australian passport holder from Perth, of Maltese heritage and was residing in Malaysia.

She convinced the victim to send money for insurance for gemstones she could sell in Perth.

The man made two bank transfers.

The woman, named Lutana Martin, requested more money after she claimed the second amount “hadn’t arrived.”

The man twice travelled to Perth to meet the woman who failed to show up at the airport, providing excuses on both occasions.

“She played on my emotions,” the man said.

“It was a game, a set-up.

“People need to beware of these sites, people on there could cost you thousands.”

The man said he knew of other people in the region who had lost money in similar scams, but chose to remain silent.

Consumer Protection has stepped up warnings of romance scams after the suspicious death of 67-year-old Wagin woman Jette Jacobs.

Ms Jacobs died after she travelled to South Africa to meet an online lover, whom she had previously sent tens of thousands of dollars.

Consumer Protection Mid West senior regional officer Danni Bloomfield said victims of romance scams often found it hard to accept the person they were “dating” online was a con artist.

“What we see here is a criminal activity that fleeces innocent goodhearted people out of their life savings,” she said.

She said anyone with concerns should call Consumer Protection on 9920 9800 or 1300 30 40 54.

The Geraldton woman who lost $1000 last weekend in a Facebook message scam received a private message from the cloned account of a friend.

The messenger said she was eligible for $150,000 under a US government “empowerment program.”

The victim was advised to contact an “agent” who instructed her to pay $3500 “tax” to receive the $150,000 total.

She then transferred $1000 via Western Union on Saturday, with the remainder to be transferred later.

She realised she had been scammed when she phoned the Facebook friend who revealed the profile had been deleted several months earlier.

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