Singaporean Student Escapes Love Scam in Taiwan Thanks to Alert Store Employee
Thought to have found love in Taiwan, a Singaporean student named Zhao instead became the victim of a common love scam.
She nearly lost NT$30,000 (S$1,260), but was saved by the alertness and quick thinking of a convenience store employee.
Here’s what happened.
A Sole Trip That Took a 360-Degree Turn
During her solo trip to Taiwan, Zhao, a 24-year-old postgraduate student, met a man known as “Chen Chen” on Tinder. He offered to meet her and show her around the city of Tainan.
The Tainan City Police reported that Chen Chen regularly checked up on Zhao during her trip, leading her to believe that a romantic relationship was blossoming.
They planned to meet outside a FamilyMart store in Tainan on 4 November 2023.
However, when the time came, Zhao was met with excuses from Chen Chen over LINE, a popular messaging app in Taiwan. He claimed to be a host at a night entertainment venue and demanded NT$20,000 (S$840) as a “meeting fee”. Additionally, he instructed Zhao to buy Apple gift cards worth NT$30,000 (S$1,260) and send him proof.
Shocked, Zhao expressed her reluctance to Chen Chen. In response, he sent her a gruesome video and threatened to harm her if she did not comply.
Frightened, Zhao entered FamilyMart to purchase the gift cards. Her frantic behavior caught the attention of an employee, who alerted the police.
At around 9:00 pm, the Tainan City Police received a report from a FamilyMart employee about a Singaporean woman potentially being scammed.
Initially, Zhao was distrustful of the police, fearing they might be accomplices in the scam.
This mistrust stemmed from misinformation about the Taiwanese police she had received from a friend.
Police body cam footage shows Zhao expressing her concerns, citing instances where Taiwanese police were allegedly involved with scammers.
She also mentioned that Chen Chen might be searching for her, as she had previously sent him her personal details and location. After extensive reassurance from the police, who emphasized their commitment to her safety, Zhao was relieved to learn that Chen Chen was not in Tainan.
To further ease her worries, the police escorted her back to her accommodation and provided their contact number for reassurance.
Love Scams, The Scam That Never Rests
The prevalence of love scams is a growing concern. The Taiwanese Police acknowledge the recurring nature of online dating fraud and are working to increase awareness through outreach and education, aiming to protect the public from such scams.
According to the Singapore Police Force, there were 33,669 scam and cybercrime cases in 2022, marking a 25.2% increase from the previous year.
These scams resulted in a loss of S$660.7 million, with 7.5% attributed to love scams.
This serves as a reminder to remain vigilant and cautious on online platforms. Remember, the person you’re talking to might not be who they claim to be.
You can watch this video we’d done in collaboration with the Singapore Police Force about love scams: