MANILA, Philippines—’Tis the season for “love scams.”
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Friday warned the public against the modus operandi of “love scammers” who target single men and women searching for love online.
The scam begins with the suspects befriending the victims online using social networking sites like Facebook, Internet chat rooms or other dating sites. Most of the e-mail senders supposedly come from Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
After several weeks—or after they have warmed up to each other—the perpetrators would send a message that they have sent a box containing expensive gifts like designer bags, jewelry and gadgets like laptops and smartphones via international door-to-door parcel complete with tracking number and invoice for the supposed shipment.
The victims would then receive an e-mail, a phone call or a text allegedly from an officer or an employee of the BOC informing them that package was held in the bureau and it would be sent to them only after they pay customs duties and taxes to be deposited in a designated bank account or money transfer service.
After remitting the money to a bank, however, the package never arrives and their “significant other” never contacts them again.
In July last year, the BOC said at least 44 people in Manila reportedly fell for the scam, not to mention victims residing in the provinces.