A 70-year-old man from Western Australia lost an amount of about AU$300,000 after becoming victim to fraudsters in the Philippines in what turned out to be a complex card game gambling scam.
The man lost the cash a 15-month period, with the fraud starting after the victim was approached and befriended by another man, at a Manila-based shopping centre. The victim revealed at the time that he was looking for an apartment and a partner there. As further revealed by Consumer Protection Western Australia, the Filipino man invited the elderly man to his home and offered him to meet him with his niece. Then, he managed to persuade him to participated in a friendly card game and assured him that he did not have to put up any money for that.
The victim managed to win some money, and the stakes were raised, with the prize money for the next game amounting to AU$150,000. Later, it was discovered, that the money in the bag only had US dollars on top and Philippine pesos underneath. Being under the impression that he had a guaranteed winning hand, the elderly man was deceived into putting up his money into the game. He was also given the chance to raise the money, so the cards were put in an envelope and sealed, so the game could proceed at a later date.
The victim initiated a number of trips to the Philippines, adding up to the money from his savings to continue playing the card game. During the whole time, he was tricked to believe that he was going to win a much larger amount of money in return.
The Gambling Fraud Is Probably Larger, Commissioner for Consumer Protection Says
This has not been the first gambling scam of the type in the region. In March 2018, a man from Baldivis revealed that he had lost a total of AU$200,000 in the same scam after a fraudster approached him in Bali, with the scam taking him to Malaysia and the Philippines over a period of just three months.
According to information provided by Lanie Chopping, the Commissioner for Consumer Protection, there have been several similar reports over a long period of time, but she believed that the fraud may turn out to be a much more common than initially thought, so the number of victims may be larger. Ms Chopping explained that many victims may be embarrassed to share what happened to them, so it is possible that the authorities remain unaware of many more victims of the scam.
She further noted that all Western Australian travellers should be aware of the scam and remain suspicious if approached by strangers overseas. She also advised them to reject any attempts that would make them involved in a card game, especially ones for real money.