Scam victim speaks out

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser

An Albany man says he feels violated after being caught up in a global money-laundering scam through a messenger app.

The man, who wished to remain anonymous, was introduced to a woman by another man on video messenger app Hangouts and began an online relationship which developed quickly.

The 38-year-old began sending money to the woman, who told him she was living in California and that her father was ill and she didn’t have money for food.

Three separate amounts of $350, $250 and $150 were sent to a bank account in Queensland before the scammer sent the man $939 last week and asked that he deposit the sum into an account in Nigeria via Western Union.

Consumer Protection Great Southern senior regional officer Iris Thomas said an alarm bell was raised when the victim tried to deposit the money at the post office and was warned he was caught up in a scam and was being used as a “mule”.

The man said yesterday he had since been threatened continually after not depositing the money and was now worried his identity could be stolen after his personal bank details, mobile phone number and even pictures of him and his house were sent during the fake online relationship.

“I’ve had Nigerians ring me, this money is important to someone,” he said. “I’ve been warned I’ve been threatened.”

The Albany man said he was now wary of trusting online profiles after the scammers gained his personal details.

“There are a lot of fake profiles out there,” he said.

“They put up a nice photo and try and take advantage.

“It makes me disgusted.

“You can’t trust anything online.

“Every time I talk to someone online now I think ‘is that a real person or someone hiding behind it?”

Ms Thomas said it was likely the man was not communicating with a woman at all and being asked to deposit money into bank accounts at a different location from where people say they live should ring alarm bells.

To report a scam, email wascam net@commerce.wa.gov.au or call 1300 30 40 54.

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