Imagine receiving a message directly from the Facebook account of your favorite actor.
Any person would be thrilled and excited.
This is exactly what this Malaysian woman experienced when a scammer, impersonating Singaporean heartthrob Desmond Tan, sent her a private message in 2019.
The 50-year-old marketing manager from Johor told Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao that she lost a total of US$14,226 in the course of eight months before she realized that she was being scammed.
“He thanked me for my constant support and I was really happy. I’ve supported him since he took part in Star Search and every one of his dramas. I’m his number one fan. Since the message came from his verified account, I believed it was him,” said the woman, who calls herself Kai Li.
Her communication with the scammer continued from Facebook Messenger to other messaging apps such as Line and WeChat. The scammer enticed the woman by using affectionate nicknames such as “baby” and “dear” that couples in love would use for each other. Kai Li said the scammer had even used romantic phrases such as “I love you so much.”
A week following their chat, the scammer asked Kai Li to meet him in Shanghai. But there was a catch: She was to cover 30 percent of his travel expenses. Thinking it was no big deal, Kai Li gave the scammer US$1,660.
As expected, the trip didn’t happen and the scammer blamed Tan’s management agency for the fuck up. To make matters worse, he then proceeded to ask Kai Li if she could lend him US$711 to help cover his tax issues.
The scammer then became bolder. At the end of the year, he invited Kai Li again to Shanghai, this time to spend Christmas and New Year’s together. He also asked US$2,371 for travel expenses.
The trip didn’t happen and the scammer this time put the blame on Tan’s agency. He requested US$9,484 to end his contract with his agency.
“He said that he was dissatisfied with the company that messed up our two overseas trips, so he quarrelled with the company and wanted to terminate the contract. He told me that after the termination of the contract, he will have freedom and he will be able to fall in love with me openly.”
Kai Li fell for it again and pawned her jewellery, sold her car, and even borrowed from loan sharks to help fake Tan out.
Discovering that she was scammed, Kai Li said she felt heartbroken and stupid for believing in the scammer’s lies.
Tan, who learnt about the incident from Lianhe Wanbao, said he wasn’t aware of what had happened and said that he only communicates to his followers through his official fan club and not directly through private messages.
So the next time you get a message from someone famous, be extremely skeptical.