We are often contacted by men, who have been scammed by con artists, pretending to be single women. Often we are able to help, sometimes we are not. It depends on the measures the scammer has taken (or not taken) to hide his identity. It also depends on how far the scam has progressed and whether or not the scammer is aware that you are on to him or her.
In one of the most prolific cons, the con artist a small group of Chinese men and an English speaking girl post a travel website and put a personal profile for the girl on asiafriendfinders.com, chinalovelinks.com, rosebrides.com and other dating sites. The girl poses as a foreigner (usually Filipino) who lives in Guangzhou, Shenzhen or other city in Southern China.
The con artist will have daily contact with the man via texts, email and telephone over weeks or even months. The contact is always through email, telephone and text messages. The con artists send a photo of a pretty girl, culled from the web. The victim believes that the person on the other end of the telephone line is the person in the photo. Here are a few actual examples. Keep in mind that the scammers get these photos from dating sites, Facebook, blogs and other sources and that the actual people depicted in these photos are innocent.
The girl then agrees to marry the man and go to meet him in his country (US, Australia, UK, etc.). She asks for money to apply for a Visa, then money for a trip to be interviewed. She then asks for travel money – needed to show that she can support herself in the receiving country. This will help with getting a Visa and she will bring the cash with her to give back to the man, when she arrives. The con artists provide copies of her ID, Passport and of the Visa she obtained… all fake. All money sent to the woman is sent via Western Union, which provides no security to the sending party – no way to stop or reverse a payment and no way to identify the recipient, as they use a fake ID to pick up the money.
She then asks for the man to buy a plane ticket through the travel agency she provides. They have a website and the man who answers the phone speaks English. He sends the man a copy of the ticket, with a confirmation number… all fake. Here are some actual examples of fake identification documents.
When the woman is scheduled to travel to meet the man, she calls and says that she has been detained at the Guangzhou airport, usually for an immigration related issue, or because she was under contract to work as a domestic servant for a Chinese family and is trying to leave before the contract expires.
The travel agent pretends to try to help. He asks for more money to help the girl get out of jail. Usually, it is around this time that the victim contacts us to see if he is being scammed or not. To further the fraud, the victim may receive an email, supposedly from the Chinese government, saying that the girl has been arrested. Here is an actual example:
Subject: from the Chinese Immigration
Date: Saturday, October 29, 2011, 11:28 PM
To Whom It May Concern
This is Ms. Rosy Chinen, from the Chinese Immigration department in Guangdong province of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). You have received this email upon request from Ms. Maria joyce Morales.
A domestic helper here in People’s Republic of China, she from Philippines.
She is currently being held and detained under the Chinese labor law for breach of employment contract. This is a serious offense in the People’s Republic of China and punishable by law but however investigations are being carried out and we shall notify you immediately if there is any development on this issue.
And get back to us as soon as you can if you know this young lady as she clam that she is traveling to meet you.
Ms Rosy Chine
Immigration Service Department
Immigration Tower, Huale Mansion,
There are many variations on this scam. The common denominators of this scam are the involvement of a foreign girl and the location – Shenzhen / Guangzhou. The con artists are very good and have convinced many men to send them substantial amounts of money.
How do you defend against Con Artists?
- Know who you are talking to. Don’t settle for communication by email, phone and text pages only. Insist on video chat through MSN, Skype, Google, Yahoo or another video / messaging service. These are commonly used in China and if the girl or woman in question does not know how to use it, someone she knows will and can help her.
- When you are video chatting with her, call her at the same time, so that you can confirm it is the same person, who answers the telephone. Talk to her on the phone and ask her to wave to you on the video connection.
- Be very wary of using a translator to communicate with her. Often, the victim is really communicating just with the translator and not with the woman he is interested in. The translator has an agreement with the woman to receive a large percentage of any gifts or money sent to the woman and will exchange intimate emails with the victim, who thinks he is actually communicating with the woman.
- Do not send money via Western Union. Send it via bank wire transfer.
- Look for inconsistencies in the supplied documents. For instance a birth year that does not match the approximate age of the person.
Here are examples of actual fake documents received from con artists in a recent case. The victim in this matter has agreed to allow our publication of these documents in the hope that a future victim will be warned in time.
What can we do to help?
Our ability to help needs to be assessed on a case by case basis. It depends on whether the victim and the con artists are still in contact... whether there are an usable leads or not… whether the con artists have made any mistakes or not. Contact us and give us a brief summary. Tell us what your last communication was and what you know about the con artists. We will be able to tell you whether or not we can help, what we will do and what the expected cost will be.
Remember to contact us before you burn your bridges with the con artists. It may feel good to tell them what you think of them, but your chances of recovery will be greatly reduced. That said, we have been successful in identifying the con artists and recovering lost money for our clients. Call or email us and we will be happy to give you a free consultation. Contact us at http://www.chinainvestigator.com or at +86-773-580-5515. From the US, you can call our US (San Francisco) convenience number, which connects to our China office at no charge to you – 415-462-0505.