He told Rita he had to return home. Being the eldest son in his family, he claimed it was his responsibility to raise money for his mother’s operation.
“He didn’t ask me to help,” she said. “But I had to do something for the man I would marry one day.”
So the concerned woman wired RM10,000 ($4,100) to Aziz.
She said Aziz was happy to receive the money. She didn’t hear from him for at least another day.
Two days later, he called her early in the morning to say that his mother’s health had deteriorated. This time, he needed another US$10,000 ($15,000) for her surgery.
She explained: “I didn’t have that kind of money. So I had to borrow the money from friends. I wired him another RM10,000 and assured him that he could take his time to repay me.”
Aziz certainly took his time. That was the last time Rita heard from him.
He disconnected his handphone line, leaving Rita wondering what she did to deserve such treatment.
“Those sweet things that he said to me were all lies. My psychiatrist says I have to let go and not let it affect my life,” she said.
Rita’s case is not rare.
Here in Singapore, police say that three women were duped of $8,000 by foreign men last year.
The New Paper on Sunday requested to speak to the victims, but all declined to be interviewed as they were embarrassed.
Across the Causeway, just last year alone, two men and five women lost RM186, 000 in online love scams, said Datuk Michael Chong from Malaysian Chinese Association’s Public Services and Complaints Department.
In 2008, seven women were cheated of RM383,000 by virtual lovers.
Mr Chong said: “I was shocked when the women lodged their reports with me... They were quite beautiful. I don’t understand why such beautiful women have to look for love online.”
Many of the women were in their late 20s.
Mr Chong said he had spoken to one of the conmen, who claimed to be from Britain.
He seemed irritated when Mr Chong asked many questions. The man, who sounded desperate, said he had been in trouble and needed money urgently, Mr Chong said.
As for the Malaysian men who fell victim to this same scam, they were sent photos of female Korean models.
They thought they were corresponding with beautiful women, said Mr Chong.
He added: “People never learn... this scam has been around for a long time. There are so many eligible bachelors in your country, why go for foreigners?”
While more cases have been reported overseas, local organisations like the Association of Women for Action and Research say they have no records of such online scams.
Spokesman Kerry Wilcock said it could be that victims are too embarrassed to step forward with their problems.
She said: “They are embarrassed that they trusted someone with personal information and they may also have been threatened that the information may be uploaded on other websites.”
This article was first published in The New Paper.