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Beware of online ‘love scams’ | #philippines | #philippinesscams | #lovescams | #datingscams | #love | #relationships | #scams | #pof | #match.com | #dating

MANILA, Philippines – Another reason not to trust strangers online: scammers using the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to dupe people into shelling out money.

In a Thursday, July 24 statement, the BOC said they arrested a suspect believed to be involved in the scam.

Here is how the scam works: Scammers would befriend potential victims online and eventually promise a package full of gifts. When the supposed package “arrives” in the country, scammers would ask for money in exchange for “customs duties and taxes.”

“After a few days, the victims receive an email allegedly coming from the Bureau of Customs informing them that packages would be sent to them after they pay duties and taxes to be deposited in a designated bank account or money transfer service. They email also details the breakdown of customs duties and taxes,” the BOC said in a statement.

Suspect nabbed in Pampanga

The scam was brought to the BOC’s attention after a certain Arneth Calma filed a complaint at the bureau. Calma was duped into giving P35,000 to a certain Herminia Castillo. Calma said she was emailing and chatting a male foreigner for several months when he supposedly told her he would be sending a package containing gifts.

Calma then received an email from the BOC, saying her package was held due to unpaid duties and taxes worth P35,000. “The email instructed her to send payment to Castillo, who pretended to be an employee of BOC, through money transfer,” said the BOC.

But even after paying Castillo, Calma was told to she needed to pay P20,000 more “because an examination revealed there were high-value goods concealed inside her package.” It was then that Calma contacted the BOC.

Castillo was nabbed by the BOC, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Intelligence Service of the AFP on Thursday, July 24 in Mabalacat, Pampanga. She faces swindling and estafa-related charges, the BOC said.

The Customs bureau will also be conducting follow-up operations against other suspects engaged in “internet love scams.”

“We are not certain as to how many people are involved in these internet scams but we will not let our guard down, especially as they are using the name of the Bureau,” said Customs Commissioner John Sevilla in a statement.

At least 44 victims

The BOC said at least 44 alleged victims of “internet love scams” have come forward from January to June 2014. The victims, the BOC said, were mostly women who were supposedly in contact with single men from Australia, United Kingdom or the United States.

Scammers usually find their victims through social networking sites such as Facebook, internet chatrooms, or dating sites, said the BOC.

“The perpetrators would send a message to their victims through email, promising to send gifts ranging from luxury bags, jewelry, laptop computers and other electronic gadgets via international door-to-door parcel.”

The BOC stressed that if duties and taxes need to paid, this is communicated through an official BOC document and not through text messaging or email.

“Duties and taxes are payable only to the Bureau of Customs and not through any bank or in the name of any person,” the bureau added. – Bea Cupin/Rappler.com


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