Singapore: Woman, 75, loses SGD 270,000 to online lover in love scam

An online love scam left a 75-year-old Singaporean woman’s bank account depleted by over SGD 270,000. As per reports, she sent the money to a man from the Philippines, who she thought was her lover.

Items seized by Singapore police as case exhibits. Photo courtesy: SPF
Items seized by police as case exhibits. Photo courtesy: SPF

The scam was discovered after she uploaded the receipts online. Seeing this, her family alerted the police.

Quoting Shin Min Daily News, Mothership reported that an amount of SGD 150,000 was handed over to a runner, who has been sentenced to 11 months in jail. The sentencing took place on April 26, 2024.

Met lover on Facebook

The septuagenarian, a retiree, met the man on social media platform Facebook. Their first exchange took place in July 2023, after the man commented on one of her pictures.

Soon, the relationship blossomed and they switched from Facebook to WhatsApp, another Meta-owned service.

The man was able to trap the 75-year-old and convince her to send him SGD 23,800, after disclosing that he was planning to move to Singapore and needed the amount for a warehouse.

He also coaxed her to spend another SGD 150,000 in his business venture.

As per reports, the said amount was given to an unknown man on September 7, 2023, in cash, after she withdrew the money and put it in two envelopes.

The woman inadvertently posted photos of the receipts, totalling SGD 273,800 on Facebook, prompting one of her contacts to inform her brothers.

Once the brothers discovered the messaged and realised the hoax, they involve the authorities.

Man arrested, sentenced to 11-month jail term

The scammer has been arrested and sentenced to 11 months in jail. He has been identified as 42-year-old Mortel Virgilio Jr Marcial.

He has pleaded guilty. Apart from the woman, Marcial also cheated another victim and received SGD 12,000 from the person.

After keeping SGD 5,500 with him, the remaining amount was handed over to an accomplice, who converted the scammed amount into digital currency.

Authorities have seized different items the 42-year-old used to scam people, as case exhibits.

Questioned about his deed, he said his own income wasn’t enough to put food on the table for the family of six, and hence resorted to such acts.