Beware of Online Scam: Online “Boyfriend” Sending Goods

12 Aug

Last week my husband told me the story of how his office mate (he started a new job, yay!) was scammed by her “boyfriend”.

Here’s how it all went down:

  • Foreign boy adds girl on Facebook
  • Boy and girl form friendship
  • Boy and girl exchange messages online
  • Boy and girl become a couple
  • Boy tells girl he sent a balikbayan box containing expensive gadgets (ipad, iphone, etc.) and a handbag that contains money inside (approximately half a million pesos). Seriously, no one falls in love that hard online.
  • After a few days, girl receives anonymous phone call from the “customs” of a country I can’t remember now; package said to be on hold because of the money that was inside the bag. Girl was told to send $500 for “customs clearing”
  • Girl borrows money from people so she can send $ to “customs”
  • Girl declined service at Western Union 2x; was told to verify recipient because it could possibly be a scam
  • Girl goes to a different remittance center to send money
  • A few days later, girl receives another phone call saying box is now in another country, once again on hold at “customs”. The caller is now asking for $2000
  • Now everyone knows the girl’s been scammed, but,
  • Girl now worried about where to get $2000.  O_O

I really think it’s OK to add people you don’t know online (I’ve formed good relationships with people I only met on the internet) BUT:

  • Don’t send money to people you haven’t met personally.
  • Only lend money you can afford to lose (and still, only to people you know).
  • Do not fall for get-rich quick schemes. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • If anyone tells you a person you know has been in an accident/detained/lost all his money in a foreign country and can’t afford to go home, call the person first, or find other ways to verify the story.
  • Keep your online accounts up-to-date.
  • Use alphanumeric passwords for important online accounts.
  • Do not allow other people to use any of your financial accounts.
  • Make sure you type the URL when accessing paypal or other financial portals instead of relying on your browser history or worse, accessing the portal through links inside emails.
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