She didn’t just lose her money in this encounter – she lost her faith in humanity as well.
Adeline (not her real name) shared with AsiaOne on Nov 10 that she had fallen for an investment scam in October, one which caused her to lose more than $320,000 in just a month.
She was first approached by an individual through Instagram, who presented himself as a high-flying businessman.
The scammer chatted with Adeline about their hobbies and work life, before asking her to switch to WhatsApp to continue their conversation.
After two weeks of interaction, the two became ‘friends’ and the ‘businessman’ allegedly offered Adeline an opportunity – to invest in trading gold commodities through a “seed” investment platform, purportedly based under a larger, reputable investment company.
Seed investment refers to financing startups in order to aid their development.
He then showed her detailed information to convince her, and although Adeline wasn’t keen on taking the plunge, she eventually acquiesced.
Her first foray into this ‘investment’ platform was funded by this scammer who gave her US$2,000 (S$2,721) to experiment with.
After turning a quick profit through the platform, the scammer then invited Adeline to invest a larger sum of US$10,000.
However, the amount was too daunting for Adeline, who admitted to AsiaOne that she had no interest in the subject and didn’t know much about investments.
In response to her rejection, the scammer told her that he would pay the majority of the ‘investment’, convincing Adeline to put in US$2,500.
“So in that incident where we put in US$10,000, the investment grew to $190,000,” she recalled. “So that’s when the problem started.”
‘I’m very stupid’
Adeline said she tried to withdraw the money she had invested from the platform but was met with multiple barriers.
First, she was told to pay a tax of US$48,000, and that the amount was only a deposit and would be refunded.
What the scammers didn’t tell her before she took out a loan and went ahead with the decision was that the refund would go into her platform’s account wallet instead of her bank.
She then tried using cryptocurrency to retrieve her money, but that failed too. The scammer allegedly told her she needed to have a verified account with “enough flow in the crypto world” to do so.
The scammers then offered her a way to verify her account, albeit at a price: US$70,000, which would also be refundable.
“Of course I put in the money because I’m very stupid,” Adeline said with a pained sigh, explaining that this was another loan from the bank.
“They refunded the money but I never got it back, because it went into the platform.”
A downward spiral
Once her account was verified, the scammers then told her that she could pull her money out from their Singapore office.
But because such a large sum of money being transferred would no doubt raise eyebrows, they told her to make multiple smaller transactions for the administrative cost of US$20,000 – this led to another bank loan for Adeline.
That wasn’t the end, as she was charged a further custody fee because of the large amount of money that was transferred, costing her US$50,000.
Next, because the money was held for so long, she had to pay another US$50,000 for the delays on Nov 2, racking up a total loan of more than $320,000.
When she was then told to pay another US$140,000, she gave up entirely.
‘Everything fell apart’
“By then I saw that something wasn’t right… they kept saying that they would give me back my money, but they didn’t,” Adeline said. “So I finally came clean with my husband.”
Last Monday (Nov 6), she finally reached out to others for help.
She told her husband that she was “muddleheaded” and was too focused on trying to get the money back that she wasn’t thinking straight, further confessing that she should have told him about this earlier.
“But it was just like… everything fell apart,” she said defeatedly.
They said they then contacted the banks for help and filed a police report that same day but have not heard back from either entities since.
Adeline is still in contact with the ‘friend’, who she said is still asking her for payment.
She also shared that she had remained unwilling to invest throughout the entire month as the scam was taking place, but her ‘friend’ somehow had a way with words and always convinced her.
She explained: “I was like, ‘I don’t really want to do this’, but later on – I don’t know how – I somehow got coerced into it.”
This dark cloud’s silver lining
This experience has scarred her in more ways than one, Adeline told AsiaOne.
“This has really burned my trust in human beings in general… Everything is fake,” she said.
However, there’s also some good amid the bad, as she feels that this will give her and her family prudence.
“And maybe this won’t be so bad for the kids, in that they won’t grow up feeling so entitled, because we can’t afford to give them as much as we used to be able to,” she said.
“We have to cut the luxuries, but I hope they learn to be humble or grow up being a bit more humble because of that. If you don’t have so much growing up, then you’ll tend to cherish what you have a little more, right?”
She also expressed that her husband’s support of her through this period – despite his anger – was something she appreciated as it also solidified their marriage.
“In Chinese we have this saying: amid disaster, true bonds are revealed,” Adeline said, thanking her friends and family that have stuck by her and comforted her through these tough times.
Although things are “really bad” for her right now, they could have been worse, she said.
She added: “But it isn’t going to be easy.”