On August 15 2014, a very-much-in-love Sean Lee faithfully waited at KLIA to pick up his Filipino girlfriend Sales Vincess.
He had met her through an online dating website, and on this day the two were supposed to meet for the very first time. The love struck 31-year-old waited for hours, but Vincess never showed up.
Still hopeful to meet her, Lee purchased another ticket for her to come see him in Malaysia dated November 22, 2014. Lee was left heartbroken once again as she did not show up, for the second time.
Sean Lee admits to Datuk Seri Michael Chong (Chairman of the MCA Public Service and Complaints Department) that he has willingly transferred a total of RM 11,789 (S$ 4,569) to Philippines in order to assist Sales Vincess iron out her financial situation.
Lee attempts to justify his actions by relating how Vincess has confided in him saying that she comes from a poor family, is struggling to make ends meet, and is finding it hard to secure a stable job to better her situation.
“Some victims find it very hard to break away from the relationship, even when they’ve been told it’s not real,” said Professor Monica Whitty, an expert on Internet fraud psychology, “So the criminal admits to scamming the victim but says that they also fell in love with them at the same time, and they get back into the same scam.”
Datuk Seri Michael Chong had to be the bearer of bad news for Lee, explaining that the MCA has received many similar complaints. Up till this point, Lee was still holding on to the hope of finally meeting the woman he loved face to face.
In 2014, the MCA has received up to 14 complaints that relate to online love scams. It seems like there is a massive syndicate that preys on lonely, heartbroken and hopeful love seekers.
In this day and age, we live in a lifestyle of being a more open mind generation than the one before us yet not having enough time to ‘date’. The combination of lack of time plus the benefits of social media remove that problem for us (on some level), but only if you are open to the concept.
Many are still skeptical about the idea that you could meet someone decent online.The general opinion is that if love-seekers find someone online, it may not work out in the end.
Then again, that’s likely to happen in any relationship regardless of whether you meet someone through online dating, or face to face.
Sean Lee ventured out into that unpredictable world, looking for someone to share his life with. Sadly his story did not work out as well as he hoped it would.
It does not always end up on a bad note though.
I curiously asked a few friends about their experiences with online dating.
**Cindy M. met her current fiancé through online dating. She recalled that after a few conversations with some very decent and interesting prospects, she found her ideal partner. It’s been all uphill from there. Cindy and Alex are due to marry in April 2015.
**Shareena L. enjoys her online dating experience but thinks that some online dating websites do not always filter their members well enough. “I think the compatibility pairing some of the sites do aren’t that good. A better pairing system should be applied, making it possible to save my time and then I can get to know only those that are truly compatible to me”, said Shareena.
Malaysia is becoming a global hub for internet scams, particularly through matchmaking services.
Ty Miller, an Australian security expert and founder of Threat Intelligence said, “Techniques can be deployed that allow malicious individuals to be tracked, which as time goes on will build intelligence to unveil the identity of the perpetrators.”
Miller said that awareness and technology are key to handling this issue.
**Names have been changed by their request.