A “Russian astronaut” posing as an International Space Station worker on Instagram tricked a Japanese woman by pledging to marry her after landing on Earth. Despite limited cell coverage, he posted space pictures, and he contacted the victim, aged 65, on June 1.
In June, the “Russian astronaut” discovered the 65-year-old Japanese woman on Instagram and started posting space photos on his profile.
As reported by VICE, the scammer initiated contact on the LINE messaging app, professing love and a desire to wed the victim.
Japanese media published excerpts of their conversation: “I want to start my life in Japan” and “Saying this 1,000 times won’t be enough, but I’ll keep saying it. I love you.”
The con man convinced the woman that he needed money for his return to Earth, including fees for a rocket to fly him from the space station to Japan to cover landing expenses.
According to Yomiuri Shimbun, the woman paid the scammer around 4.4 million yen (approximately £27,000) in five payments between August 19 and September 5, under the belief that he would become her future spouse.
After he repeatedly demanded money, she reported the “Russian astronaut” to the police.
Police are investigating the case as a romance scam where the perpetrator creates a false online identity to earn the trust of the victim and solicit money.
The incidence of this type of crime is on the rise in Japan, with an estimated 14,498 cases reported in the country last year, nearly 67% more than a decade ago.
Have you or anyone you know been a victim of a similar scam? Let us know in the comments!