More than 100 Taiwanese men have recently fallen victim to scams in which they give money to women who seduce them over the phone, police said.
The cases came to light after Kaohisung police and the Criminal Investigation Bureau last week arrested nine alleged members of a phone fraud ring, allegedly operated by a criminal syndicate headed by a man surnamed Liu (劉).
The syndicate was based in China, but has couriers to pick up money and female go-betweens in Taiwan, police said.
In many of the cases, victims believed a tragic story told to them by a woman on the phone, such as that they were destitute or had to pay big medical bills for sick family members, police said.
Once the victim has fallen for the story, they do what they can to help out their “newfound love,” including putting their houses up for collateral or taking out bank loans, the police added. However, the men end up with nothing but an empty bank account and, for many, a broken heart.
“Taiwanese men are easy prey for these phone sex scams,” a policeman said, shaking his head.
According to police reports, more than 100 people were taken advantage of in the phone sex scam, of which most were men over the age of 50, divorced, widowed, or who had little experience with relationships.
The police said the increasing number of men falling for such scams are desperately looking for love and are easily exploited by a charming woman who calls them several times a day and showers them with affection. Victims think they have found their “dream girl,” and many were willing to do everything for the object of their desire, police said.
Information from the police indicated a number of victims were duped out of more than NT$1 million (US$34,000) and that the majority of them were retired civil servants. One victim was a professor at a medical university in Taipei who, even after police had informed him of the scam, still would not believe the girl who had been his “mistress” for about six months was a member of a phone fraud gang, and he was still considering lending her more money, the police said.
However, Liu was quoted by the police as saying that it is becoming more difficult to entrap and gain the trust of these lonely men, adding that female syndicate agents often have to continuously engage their mark on the phone for months, or even a year, to successfully extract money from them.
For some men, talking on the phone was not enough and they would insist on meeting the girl for sex, to prove that they were really in love, Liu was quoted as saying, adding that the fraud ring was prepared for this eventuality and recruited girls willing to meet the victims to get a bigger payout.
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