Adamant that she is not being tricked, Liu Shu-chen (劉淑貞), a former employee at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), posted a message on Facebook seeking to raise funds to allow CIA Director David Petraeus to come to Taiwan and marry her.
According to an exclusive report in the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) on Monday, Liu has so far given about US$30,000 to a person claiming to be Petraeus and has been listed as a securities fraud suspect after she tried to cash in 37 travelers’ checks, each valued at 500 euros (US$686), that the alleged Petraeus sent her.
The two met over Skype, a computer-to-computer calling platform.
Liu is convinced the person claiming to be Petraeus is who he says he is and showed reporters a ring with the name “David” inscribed on it, which she said he sent her.
“Petraeus” allegedly told her he would soon come to Taiwan on a military transport and help resolve the forgery allegations.
The media and other concerned parties should not be so quick to call “David” a liar, Liu said.
“How could a scamming group have so much resources at its disposal?” she asked, adding that the man who claimed to be Petraeus was deliberately misleading the media into believing he was a scammer to keep cross-strait issues calm and “protect their love.”
In response to the alleged Petraeus’ displeasure at media footage of their Skype conversation on Monday, Liu said on Tuesday that CNN should also interview her about the incident, because that would force him “to come to Taiwan sooner.”
Liu posted the content of television reports on the matter on her Facebook page on Tuesday, which garnered concerned comments from friends who said she lost more than she gained by quitting her job late last month.
“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the comments,” Liu said.
In addition to online friends, police in Hsinchu sent several officers to visit Liu and sat with her for hours, trying to persuade her that she was the victim of an international scam and that the man’s professed “love” was in fact a way of conning her out of her savings.
However, Liu remains convinced the whole thing is real and would not hear of it, and refused to have her conversation with the officers recorded.
Police reports said Liu has made eight wire transfers to Spain and Nigeria totaling US$50,000 since July 1 and that the Web cam IP address used by the alleged Petraeus could be fake.
In terms of international jurisdiction and criminal investigation responsibilities, the police are working with the Criminal Investigation Bureau’s International Division.
Liu’s former employer said on Tuesday that she had worked at TSMC as director of engineering for research and development.
TSMC confirmed that Liu quit her job at the end of last month.
Reactions on the Internet have been largely unsympathetic, with some netizens leaving messages telling Liu to face the music, or other more sarcastic messages telling her not to waste other people’s money for the sake of her own happiness.
Netizens also pointed out that the man who claimed to be Petraeus had been using the identity of the CIA director to scam for sex and money as long ago as last year, using two IP addresses originating in Ghana.
The message was also seen on English-language site Cyber Crime Ops last year warning of a scammer claiming to be the then-US four-star general, with a New Zealander, using the alias “yellis12,” sharing her experiences and hoping others would not fall for it.