Jane* contacted the FMA in June 2021 to report a serious investment scam that had cost her more than $100,000.
The scammer initially matched with Jane on popular dating app, Hinge, in March. After months of chatting, he lured her into a complicated investment scam involving supposed forex currency trading. Here’s her story.
“I met a Chinese guy named ‘Wu Haoyu’ on Hinge on 9th of March. His location showed he was in Auckland when we got matched. We suggested we communicate via WhatsApp as he didn’t use Hinge much.
“He claimed he lived in Canada a few years and moved to Wellington in February. He was planning to move to Auckland in June. For the first two months, he texted me daily and often sent me photos and videos of himself and his life in Wellington.
“He shared a lot of things in common with me. We read the same books, had the same thoughts on the same book and similar values etc... He gave me an impression that he was very open minded and genuinely interested in my hobbies.
“After a month, he started sharing his biggest passion/hobby with me – crypto currency investment. He said he had a finance degree and learnt how to read candlestick charts.
“He showed me his trading history and persuaded me to invest in forex currency trading.”
Jane did her homework before transferring any money. His Facebook and LinkedIn pages checked out, and the link to the website sent by scammer - www.forexdce.com - was professional looking, with real trading data and a forum for investors to share investment tips.
‘Wu Haoyu’ spent time teaching Jane about forex, and after a while she made her first transfer of $3000, then another $8000.
Jane showed plenty of skepticism and would contact the www.forexdce.com customer service team to double check the information she was given. Again, it all checked out, and their call centre would verify his claims.
“I was manipulated and guilt tripped into further investing $100,000 because he claimed if I didn’t increase my fund to a certain level, he couldn’t either. I felt I owed him money. He made me feel it was the platform making difficult rules to encourage people to invest more.
“He transferred $20,000 into my forex account without my permission. He said there was a good opportunity coming up soon and after this trade, we can both withdraw our funds and I can then return his money to him when he came to Auckland on the 15th of June. I was very surprised and asked them to return his money back to his account but they said inter-accounts transfer was forbidden (to avoid money laundering) and the only way he deposited the money into my account was through bank transfer.
“So I was stuck with his money in my account and I only wished it could all finish soon so I can withdraw the fund and return his money.
“After the last trade, I requested a withdrawal. I was told I must transfer 20% of my total withdrawal as tax money first before 10th of June, only then they will release the fund into my ANZ bank account. Otherwise, my fund will be frozen and withheld. At that moment, I fully realised that it was a scam. I reported it to my bank and the NZ police immediately.”
Regrettably, NZ Police have been unable to help Jane.
Despite Jane telling the scammer she had reported him to the police, he remained in touch, even boasting about new victims he was now scamming. He claimed he would get 10-20% of the total scammed money and the company gets the rest. He told her he was recruited in China and spent three months in Laos for an intensive training on psychology.
Jane fell victim to a sophisticated international scam, involving an apparently highly organised network which is trained to analyse the psychological make-up of their victims.
Jane has since made contact with other victims on Reddit and picked up some helpful tips on how to identify scammers operating online.
* Jane is not her real name. She agreed to share her story to warn others about this type of scam.