A group of nine Cameroonians have been arrested for cheating a Chinese woman out of more than 267,000 yuan (US$39,265) in a "black money scam," Shenzhen police said yesterday. The nine people persuaded the woman, surnamed He from Fuzhou, Fujiang Province, into paying more than 267,000 yuan to purchase a "magic" chemical fluid that would restore US$5 million in bank notes that had been dyed black so they could be smuggled into China, police said.
The woman came to know a Cameroonian, identified by police only as Dennis, through an online chat on the "Date in Asia" networking Web site last December, police said. He told her that he had inherited US$5 million from one of his relatives, a banker who died in a civil war. Dennis pursuaded He into coming to Shenzhen to help him bring the fortune safely to China to establish a company, promising her a handsome profit.
In Shenzhen, Dennis told her that he had dyed the U.S. bank notes in order to pass through customs. He used a "magic fluid" to restore the black note to a U.S. bank note.
After confirming the bank note's authenticity at a bank, she began to trust the man and his accomplices. She paid them more than 267,000 yuan to buy the fluid, police said.
The group promised to pay her a decent dividend.
The woman reported to police in February after they all disappeared. At the same time, the Shenzhen police Internet supervision unit received a report from Microsoft, which said suspected criminals were using the "Date in Asia" Web site to defraud large sums of money.
Two of the nine men had admitted to defrauding He, police said, without disclosing details of their identities and roles. The police investigation is continuing.
Police said that all cases of Internet fraud reported in Chinese cities in recent months involved foreigners who were active in social networking Web sites.
The black money scam, sometimes also known as the "wash wash scam," is one where con artists attempt to fraudulently obtain money from a victim by persuading him or her that piles of bank note-sized paper in a trunk or a safe is really money that has been dyed black to avoid detection by customs. The victim is persuaded to pay for chemicals to wash the "money" with a promise that he will share in the proceeds.
The scam has been around since 2000, but despite many warnings, it continues to lurre many victims. // Shenzhen Daily