Painful $3.2m lesson in love for female teacher

Jane Cheung

A 39-year-old female teacher allegedly lost HK$3.2 million in an online love scam to her “Portuguese boyfriend” whom she met on dating app Coffee Meets Bagel last year.

Police received a report from the woman on Saturday that in the past two months she had transferred HK$3.2 million to her “boyfriend” to support his jewelry business.

But she realized she had fallen victim in an online romance scam after the man cut contact with her.

The case has been classified as “obtaining property by deception.” The force’s Tuen Mun crime unit is investigating. No arrests have been made.

Police said the crime is punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

Sources said the woman met the alleged scammer on Coffee Meets Bagel last year. He claimed to be a jewelry businessman living in Portugal.

The pair subsequently became lovers though she has never met him in person, after which the scammer claimed he needed cash to support his business. The victim made 20 transfers totaling HK$3.2 million to him, only to find herself losing contact with her boyfriend soon after.

Coffee Meets Bagel is one of the most popular dating apps in Hong Kong, with tens of thousands of users, mostly in their 20s to 40s.

The platform was founded in San Francisco 10 years ago.

At noon every day, the app recommends users the profile of around 20 matches whom they can choose to like or skip. According to the app, it has created one million dates and matched 15,000 couples over the past 10 years.

Last Tuesday, police received another scam report from a 58-year-old woman, who lost cryptocurrency worth HK$6.07 million.

The woman said she met a friend online, who claimed she could send her a cat from overseas as a gift and asked her to contact staff from a courier company for shipping payment.

However, the company claimed the cat passed away in the course of shipping, and that she would be entitled to US$150,000 (HK$1.17 million) compensation from insurance.

But to receive the compensation, she was told to pay administrative fees to a foreign bank. She eventually transferred cryptocurrency worth HK$6.07 million in 40 transactions.


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