Virtual friendship can cost you RM1.2mil

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Kuala Lumpur, June 4 (ANI): A Malaysian woman has revealed that she was conned out of RM1.2million by a British man who she befriended on the Internet.

The 47-year-old housewife, who only wanted to be known as Madam Lee, said a man who claimed to be a British offshore engineer named Jeff Brian Manik had added her to his list of online friends last year.

Lee said the man told her that he was sending 10 gifts for Easter, including a designer wristwatch, perfume, a Louis Vuitton bag, jewellery, a laptop computer, a camera and his latest picture through a courier service in April.

"He asked me to pay RM16,500 as a deposit to claim those gifts, which I did by banking the money into two local bank accounts, but I did no see any gifts in the end," the Star Online quoted her as telling a press conference held by MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong on June 3.

She said she received an e-mail from a man said to be Manik's agent about two weeks later who told her Manik wanted to invest in property in Malaysia and needed her help to handle his 2.3million pounds for the transaction.

"I was convinced after I met the agent at a hotel with a suitcase of pound sterling notes," she said.

Lee said she deposited cash close to RM400,000 with various agents via various account names between April 20 and May 11 for the transfer of the money here.

She said she deposited RM586,000 into a company account on May 16 after she received a call from one of the agents that there was a 5 percent tax charge on the 2.5million pounds.

On May 26, Lee said she paid another RM258,000 to the same company.

Lee said she felt something was amiss when she never received the gifts but she was convinced by the so-called agent about the so-called Manik's interest in investing in Malaysia.

"I just wanted to help a friend but I did not expect it to turn out like this, I just want the money back to repay my family and friends," she said, adding that she had never met Manik.

Chong said he had received complaints from 18 women of a similar cheating scam with losses amounting to more than RM2.4mil since 2007.

"Please be wary of these con men. Some of these women were not only cheated of their hearts but all their money, too," he stated.

Chong said the British High Commission had received many complaints of such cases where a man with a British accent would befriend a woman through the Internet. (ANI)

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