Hong Kong Has Seen an Alarming Surge in 'Romance Scams'


A whole lot of women in Hong Kong are getting swindled by people on online dating sites—police there have recorded 330 victims of “romance deception” in the first half of 2018 alone.

According to Quartz, 2018 has seen 40 percent more such grifts than the whole of 2017. Ninety percent of the victims have been women.

But not only has the volume of swindles increased, the amount of money changing hands has shot up, too. From Quartz:

The average person scammed by fake lovers in Hong Kong lost about $64,000 on average in the first half of 2018, compared with $59,000 in 2017. At $21.6 million, the total amount of money swindled in the first six months of 2018 was 56% more than the entire amount lost in 2017. In May, a woman living in public housing lost $3.4 million to a man claiming to be a financial analyst in Malaysia. The woman borrowed huge sums of money from banks, friends, and family after she had exhausted her own savings to meet the man’s financial demands over a period of almost two years.

FYI, online romance scams are increasing in the U.S. as well, though mercifully it’s not nearly to the extent that it exists in Hong Kong…yet. The FBI reported 15,372 cases totaling $211.4 million in 2017, which evens out to around $13,800 per person. I guess the moral is “don’t give money to strangers/anyone,” but I don’t know. Loneliness is a powerful drug.

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