65-Year-Old Woman Falls Victim To A Scammer Claiming That He’s A Russian Astronaut

Ah. The month of love is right around the corner. Valentine’s Day is just that holiday that no one is able to escape from, whether you’re single or already taken.

One tricky thing about love though, is that it’s capable of blinding even the smartest or toughest person. You know what they say… Love is blind. This is also the reason why many people don’t see the bad sides of their partner – the reason why, for example, there are “players” out there that are able to fool the people that they’re seeing as though they are their “one and only,” while they are in fact just one of the few.

PHOTO: Unsplash/Kelly Sikkema

Love is also the key factor in romance scams. In my opinion, being a victim of this is worse than falling in love with a player. A player is just someone who breaks hearts, but a scammer is someone who can not only break your heart but break your bank as well.

Sadly, it happens. And it happened to one old Japanese woman late last year.

A scammer, claiming that he was a Russian astronaut, found a 65-year-old victim on Instagram and told her that he was working on the International Space Station. To add to his act, the scammer set up his profile to have photos that were supposedly taken from space.

PHOTO: Unsplash/Niketh Vellanki

Though the scammer used Instagram to find his victim, they communicated mainly on LINE, a famous communication app used in Japan. The “astronaut” began commuting with the Japanese woman in June, and, after a few months of steady communication, the scammer proposed to his victim, promising that they’d meet and live their life together once he returns to Earth.

Some of the messages sent to the victim included the scammer saying that he wants to start his life in Japan and “saying this 1,000 times won’t be enough, but I’ll keep saying it. I love you.”

Then the scammer finally made his move. He claimed that he needed money to be able to return to Earth; this included landing fees and rocket fees to go to Japan.

In a Japanese news report, they wrote that the woman paid the scammer a total of about 4.4 million yen (that’s around $30,000), and the payments were made in five installments from August to September. The woman only grew suspicious of her fiancé when his monetary demands persisted and even escalated, and she reported the man to the police soon after her suspicions grew.

PHOTO: Unsplash/Ali Abdul Rahman

The Japanese police treated this case as a romance scam. Sadly, cases of these kinds of scams are steadily growing, with almost a 67% growth over the past 10 years. We have the birth of the internet and dating apps to thank for that, I guess. We all just want love, I know. But it’s best to stay alert and don’t give your trust easily, especially if you only communicate online.

Read more about romance scams and how to report them if you feel like you’re a victim (which I hope you’re not) in this Federal Trade Commission article.

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