A fraudster has taken international romance scams out of this world by claiming to be an astronaut and conning a 65-year-old woman out of millions of yen, Japanese police announced last week.
The scam reportedly began when the pair corresponded through Instagram on June 28. The con artist, who has yet to be identified, claimed to be a Russian cosmonaut working in the International Space Station (ISS).
Romance between the two quickly blossomed. The “astronaut” eventually expressed his intent to marry the Japanese senior but said he could not leave the ISS unless he had enough money.
“Even if I say it 1,000 times and it won't get across, I will keep saying it. I love you,” the trickster allegedly told the woman.
The victim was manipulated into sending a total of 4.4 million yen (approximately $30,238) between Aug. 19 and Sept. 5. However, her “lover” continued to ask for more, which made her suspicious.
The victim, who lives in the city of Higashi-Omi in Shiga prefecture, eventually decided to lodge a police report. As of press time, it is unknown whether authorities have found leads to a suspect.
Nonetheless, police have warned the public against such scams. The signs in this case were telling from the get-go, for the fraudster complained of having poor cell service in the ISS when the actual station has no cell service. He also falsely described the ISS as operating like an airport, tickets and all.
The case has since drawn mixed reactions online. Some expressed sympathy for the victim, while others pointed out the absurdity of the stunt.
“This is even beyond an ‘international’ romance scam,” one social media user wrote, as per SoraNews24.
Another commented, “I think they intentionally make the story ridiculous like that, so when the victim finally does find out they’re more likely to be too embarrassed to report it.”
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