Hong Kong finance manager lost £1.3m to 'British film director' she never met in eight year romance con

Neil Connor
The former British colony has witnessed a surge in online romance scams but this was the city's biggest - AFP

A con artist who pretended to be a British film director has reportedly duped a Hong Kong woman out of HK$14 million (£1.3 million) in the city's biggest ever online romance scam.

The victim of the eight year-long fraud was a manager at a Hong Kong finance firm who believed she was involved in an online relationship with the man, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

"A police source described the eight-year con as the longest-lasting online love scam in the city, and the HK$14 million lost as the largest in a single case," the SCMP said.

The victim, who was reported to be in her 40s, never met her purported lover face to face.

She sent him cash in more than 200 transactions to bank accounts in Malaysia and Hong Kong after the pair met on a dating website.

The former British colony has witnessed a surge in online romance scams, with 119 residents being duped out of HK$75.9 million (£7.2 million) during the first three months of this year.

That figure is five times more than the amount for the same period last year, the SCMP said.

In 2016 a 42-year-old woman from the Asian commercial hub was conned out of HK$880,000 (£83,000) by a man who claimed to be her “British lover”. 

And in January a Hong Kong woman who had joint residency in Canada lost more than HK$6 million (£560,000) to online dating fraudsters, the SCMP said.

In one of the UK's most high-profile recent online romance cases, two men were jailed in 2016 after a London woman, who was in her 40s, was conned out of £1.6 million.

When police tracked down the men, they found they had been using a book entitled 'The Game: Penetrating the Society of Pick Up Artists' as a seduction manual.