A 59-year old woman lost over P2.2 million of her hard-earned money to an online dating app scammer whom she thought to be a Turkish national she wants to spend the rest of her life with.
It took another appeal for money after sending over P2.2 million that the victim finally realized that she was duped and eventually sought the assistance of the operatives of the Philippine National Police-Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG).
The Turkish whom she thought she had a long distance relationship with turned out to be Nigerian Ikenna Onuoha who worked with two Filipinos in duping her, according to Lt. Col. Jay Guillermo, spokesman of the PNP-ACG.
Onuoha, along with suspect Jacel Ann Paderan, was arrested during a follow-up operation on Nov. 1 in Bacoor, Cavite. The third suspect, Cristine Mae Elizares, is still being hunted down by the police.
Guillermo said the victim first downloaded the app “Meetme” to remedy her anxiety problem and later met a certain Demir Balik.
“As their relationship got deeper, the suspect made a lot of promises to the victim which she believed to be true,” said Guillermo.
“In one of their conversations, ‘Demir Balik’ managed to convince the victim to send him money in the accumulated total amount ofP2,282,000,” he added.
The money, according to Guillermo, was deposited at the bank accounts of Paderan and Elizares.
The victim later told the police that she sent the money to help “Demir Malik” who told her that he needed the money to activate his account in Clydesdale Bank.
“When the suspect asked for more money from the victim, it is then that she realized that she was being conned and decided to report the incident to our office,” said Police Lt. Michael Bernardo, Team Leader of Quezon City District Anti-Cybercrime Team (QCDACT) where the victim asked assistance to capture the suspects.
Bernardo said the three suspects were charged with Violations of Art 315 (Swindling/Estafa) of the Revised Penal Code.
The ACG then reminded the public to be wary of online dating apps and other online scammers.
“When people you meet online start asking you for money, think again. These are red flags that indicate that you are a potential victim of a love scam”, said ACG director Police Brig. Gen. Joel Doria.
“ACG encourages other victims of the suspects to come and report to our office in order for us to properly assist you”, he added.