Saturday, November 5, 2016

Frauds Online Alert

Today, I’m writing about Ann.
Ann was/is a Ph.D. in Nutrition working in India, Vietnam, Cambodia and other Asian countries as Advisor to local environmentalists on crops – how to stay organic and away from GMO products.

While here in Malaysia, Ann joined a local university as a lecturer. About six months into this teaching position, Ann met a German Caucasian man on the internet. He told her he was also a Ph.D. in Nutrition and shared pictures of his life, his place of employment and children back in Germany.

I’m not sure if he told Ann he was divorced or separated, but he invited her to Germany for a work associated visit. This man told her he was holding a Fair for activists to fight GMO products. This man even paid for Ann’s expenses to Germany supposedly for her lectures.

Ann took a week’s leave of absence from her work at the university to fly to Germany. At the prearranged hotel suite, she waited for a knock on her door as the German man was supposed to visit and take her to the venue of her lectures. 

(Here I’m thinking the narrative could be different had she taken the precaution to meet at a public place instead. But then, after six months of correspondence, Ann already felt comfortable with the German man and was there as a friend and fellow activist.) 

Ann went to Germany for this event as she was at that point, barred from a number of Asian countries for her anti-GMO lectures. When Ann opened her hotel room door to greet the German man, what she saw were three Nigerian black men who quickly accessed the room and explained that they are a syndicate with this kind of modus operandi. Apparently, the German Caucasian man Ann was communicating with via emails, face chat, and even videos, was a member of this syndicate. They were so sophisticated in their operation; Ann had even “verified” all his “credentials.”

So, the Nigerian syndicate wanted USD50k for her release. Ann had depleted all her savings at that point because of her long running activist activities so she had to turn to family and friends in the USA to come up with the (relatively small) ransom.

She survived the ordeal but when she returned to Malaysia, she lost her job. Ann was sacked from her job due to a prolonged leave of absence without prior notice. The university sued her for breach of contract after she made claims of salary due to her in terms of tens of thousands in Malaysian Ringgit. (1 USD = RM 4.21.) My friend who assists with patients at the General Hospital here met her while she was there seeking treatment for her Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Apparently, Ann had breathed in too much chemicals in her line of work. Ann is an example of why it’s so hard to trust people you meet on the internet. The world is so crazy as it is.