Woman loses $23k to Facebook fraudster

KEITH LYNCH
Last updated 05:00 27/02/2012

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A Christchurch woman was conned out of more than $23,000 in an elaborate online scheme.

The 50-year-old woman, who does not want to be named, met a man through Facebook, spoke to him for about three months online and over the phone, and paid him more than $23,000 after being taken in last month by a hoax story.

The internet conman asked her for the money to get a package out of Australian Customs.

He even sent her a tracking number and the address of a website where she could track the "package" which she was told contained gold nuggets and jewellery.

The woman spoke out to warn others of the dangers online.

"I thought he was reasonably decent person but you can't really tell," she said.

"He gained my trust and we even talked about people on Facebook who scam people."

Before asking for money, the man told her he was travelling to New Zealand and wanted her to accept a package on his behalf.

He sent her a link to a website with a tracking number to monitor the package. But when the package got to Australia it got held up "because they wanted a money laundering certificate", she said.

"He pleaded, he actually cried on the phone. He got me sucked in. I felt really bad for him.

"He told me he'd pay me back and it would be fine."

She then sent him about $17,500.

After the man said he needed more help, she sent him another $6000.

"They take and then they ask for more. This is what we talked about. This is what he told me they actually do," she said.

When she checked the tracking website the item had been released. The website later told her it had been sent on to Wellington, but was also held up there.

She then spoke to her brother about what happened and he contacted the police.

"Then I realised everything was fake. Every website he led me to was fake," the woman said.

Senior Constable Andy Williamson of Christchurch police urged people to be wary of online scams.

"People shouldn't be sending money to strange people. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

"Once it's gone it's gone," Williamson said.

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