The police said a woman lost HK$180 million after transferring money multiple times to an overseas “engineer” who she met online, setting a new record for internet love scams.

The case was reported last month. The victim told the police that between May 2014 and July of this year, the “engineer” told her that his business was in trouble and asked for money multiple times.

The case was listed as obtaining property by deception, and is being handled by the Wan Chai District Crime Squad. No one has been arrested.

File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Apple Daily cited unnamed sources as reporting that the woman was a 66-year-old working in investment who lives in the mid-levels.

The sources said she never met the “engineer” and that she complied with requests to send him amounts of up to HK$1 million in different currencies. She wired him money on about 200 occasions, the sources said.

The police urged members of the public to be careful when meeting new friends online, and urged them not to reveal personal information or photos.

The police said the public should verify the identity of strangers if they ask for money for any reason. The public can call the Anti-Deception Coordination Centre’s 24-hour hotline 18222 for enquiries if they have any doubt.

romance scam
Photo: Police.

According to the police, there were 235 cases of romance scams reported in 2017, involving losses of more than HK$100 million.

Over 90 per cent of the victims were female. None of the victims had ever met the other party in person.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.