City desk reporter covering Hong Kong community news, particularly for City Weekend.Covers environment, charity, culture, crime, politics and viral news.
Online dating figures
Their scammers will then disappear shortly after the transaction or even several transactions despite making promises of romantic commitment and even marriage.
Hongkongers’ cash lost to online dating fraud triples to HK$95m, figures show Generally, the scammer will never meet their victim throughout this deception game, which generally lasts between one and six months.
In 2013, a total of 55,274 marriages were registered in the city, just 52.2 per cent of which (28,837) were between two Hongkongers.
This marked a decline from 2012, when 32,523 marriages were between locals.
She advised people seeking love online to meet their prospective match within one week of commencing contact, in order to “weed out the scammers” and time-wasters who “only feed you breadcrumbs”.
“The pressure women feel from friends and family could be contributing,” she said.
Police rarely catch the culprits because the online nature of their crime makes them difficult to trace, and they are often based outside of Hong Kong.
The ones that are tracked down are generally arrested for money laundering offences.
After forming an online relationship with their victims, they will ask them for money to pay off a tax debt or even a customs payment for a gift they claim they are intending to send them.
Previous scams have seen victims then depositing significant amounts of money into bank accounts in foreign countries including Malaysia.
Before the South China Morning Post, Rachel worked as a reporter at the Evening Standard in London.