Macau where the alleged assault took place. Photo: iStock

A woman in Macau has evidently been cheated out of around 400,000 patacas (US$49,500) by an online romance scammer. The victim, a widow aged around 50 who worked as a valet parking attendant, told the police that she had met a foreign man named “Steve” through Facebook in early February, Jornal Cheng Pou reported.

The man claimed to be a businessman and divorced. He was living in Thailand with a son and a daughter.

“Steve” claimed he wanted to send a gift to the woman and asked for her home address in Macau.

A few days later, the victim received a call from a woman, who spoke Mandarin, claiming to be a worker at a courier company. She told the victim that she had to transfer HK$17,300 (US$2,200) to an account for an “unpaid parcel shipment.”

The caller then told the victim that the parcel was being held by overseas customs officers after they found there was a stack of US banknotes inside. She asked the victim to transfer another HK$39,200 “handling fee” to the courier company for writing a letter to the customs department, Today Macau reported.

The victim followed the instructions.

Over the course of a few months, “Steve” requested that the woman  transfer money for various reasons, for example to take care of the children or to invest in property in Thailand.

Last month, the victim wanted to meet “Steve” in person and went to Thailand. However, “Steve” found an excuse not to show up but asked the victim to transfer US$20,000 to him. The victim again followed the instruction. Since then, she has not heard from the man.

Macau Judiciary Police are investigating the case and warned the public to stay alert to online scammers, advising residents not to disclose personal details and to be vigilant about transferring any money.

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