Two international crime syndicates have driven a 66% surge in dating fraud in Hong Kong, according to recent local reports.
The South China Morning Post reported earlier this week that HK$36.4m ($4.6m) has already been defrauded from Hong Kong victims in the first half of 2017 alone.
And police sources have told the paper that investigations point to two crime syndicates operating within Asian countries but headed by romance scammers from Africa.
The same sources said the police believes these crime groups were behind the majority of the 78 online romance scams handled by local police so far in 2017.
The police contacts told the South China Morning Post: “The mastermind of one of the syndicates is believed to be from Nigeria.
“Most of the money involved was transferred into bank accounts in Asian countries such as Taiwan before authorities lost track of it.”
The total lost in the first six months of 2017 is said to be HK$36.4m ($4.6m), a 66% increase from the previous year.
The most lost in a single scam was HK$4m ($500k).
Read the full report here.