Robert and Lisa
80 year old Robert met someone online claiming to be “Lisa Kuster” on dating site BE2 in November/December 2013. She claimed to be 38, with a German father and Brazilian mother, and living in Germany. He began sending her money for small things and moved to sending larger amounts of money. The plan was for her to come to Perth to see Robert.
In late 2014, Robert became concerned with the amount of money that he had been sending “Lisa” and she told him that she had a package of gold owned by her family which she was intending to take with her to Australia when she visited Robert.
In March 2015, “Lisa” claimed to be travelling to Perth and Robert attended Perth airport but she did not arrive. Robert was later told by “Lisa” that the gold had been held up in customs in Egypt and she had travelled from Egypt to Abu Dhabi.
Robert paid around $70,000 supposedly for fines for the release of the gold. It was then claimed the gold had been sent to Abu Dhabi.
Robert reports being directed to a website which is no longer active and appears to have been set up using a Ghana-based email address that has been used in other scams and to set up other scam websites.
“Lisa” claimed to have sold the gold for around $950,000 in July 2015 and transferred the money to a “Coalpen Bank” (now closed). When this bank account was opened there was an authorised transfer of $120,000 to Robert to repay him. This has never eventuated.
“Lisa” was then apparently arrested in Abu Dhabi when as she did not have the correct “documentation” in August 2015. Robert started speaking to an “Inspector Abudalai”, who asked him to pay a fine of about $29,000 for Lisa to be released.
“Inspector Abudalai” then claimed he would look after “Lisa” as she had told him her story. He apparently found her somewhere to stay and helped her out. He has now been negotiating with the Coalpen Bank as there have been issues with regard to issuing the large amount of money supposedly in Lisa’s bank account.
Robert paid $85,000 to cover costs of sending the funds to Australia. “Lisa” said she was required to travel to the UK to confirm her identity, and needed funds to do that.
Robert had sent a total of $314,500. As Robert had initially been sending money to Germany and the United Arab Emirates, his overseas fund transfers were not picked up by Project Sunbird. In July 2015, Robert started sending funds to countries covered by Project Sunbird and was sent a first letter on 27 August 2015. A second letter was sent, personally addressed to Robert, on 10 December 2015 which led to him contacting Consumer Protection and ceasing the scam payments.
Robert has some advice for other people who have established an online relationship with someone who is asking for money.