A 70-year-old WA man has fallen victim to an elaborate card game gambling scam, losing about $300,000 to fraudsters in the Philippines over a 15 month period.
The complex scam began when the victim was approached and befriended by a man at a shopping centre in Manila, where the victim revealed he was looking for an apartment and a partner.
The Filipino man invited the victim back to his home to meet his niece and then persuaded him to take part in a friendly card game assuring him that he didn’t have to put up any money.
After winning some money, the stakes were raised and a bag of money claimed to be $150,000 was produced as the prize money for the next game. It was later discovered the money in the bag had US dollars on top and Philippine pesos underneath.
Made to believe that he had a guaranteed winning hand, the scam victim was duped into putting up his own money. To give him time to raise the money, the cards were sealed in an envelope so the game could continue at a later date.
The WA victim made several trips to the Philippines taking cash from his savings to continue playing the card game with the belief that he was going to win a much larger sum of money in return.
A Baldivis man revealed in March 2018 that he had lost $200,000 in the same scam after being approached in Bali. The scam took him to Malaysia and the Philippines over a three month period.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Lanie Chopping said there have been several similar reports over many years but believes the fraud may be more common than first thought.
“As with many victims, they may be too embarrassed to come forward so we suspect that there are many more victims of this scam that we don’t know about,” Ms Chopping said.
“The fraud involves building a relationship of trust with the victim, enticing them with the prospect of making lots of money as well as adding some suggestion of a romantic relationship. They are first encouraged to make small bets so they become financially invested to continue the scam even when the stakes are raised and more money is demanded.
“We want WA travellers to be aware of this scam and be suspicious when approached by strangers overseas and invited to go back to their home. Reject any attempt to become involved in a card game and immediately remove yourself from that situation before any money changes hands.
Ms Chopping said the people behind the scam were criminals involved in organised gangs and urged victims to seek from local police or the Australian consulate.”