Scammer pretends to be terminally-ill teen on Facebook

PHOTO: Scammer pretends to be terminally-ill teen on Facebook

As a cancer survivor, she was touched by how terminally-ill UK teen Stephen Sutton, 19, had raised millions for cancer research.

Mrs Josy Ng, a housewife in her 40s, felt compelled to help and wanted to wish him well.

But when the Facebook user she had been communicating with asked her to send the money to South Africa, alarm bells went off.

Stephen Sutton from Staffordshire, England, was diagnosed with cancer when he was 15. Last January, when he found out that his disease was incurable, he set up a Facebook page titled "Stephen's Story" with a bucket list of 46 things he wanted to do.

He has raised more than £3 million (S$6.3 million) for The Teenager Cancer Trust, and was even visited in hospital by UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mrs Ng read about Stephen in The New Paper on Sunday on April 27 and wanted to help in whatever way she could. So she went onto Facebook, found a profile named "Stephen Sutton" that had a photo of the teen in hospital. The photo has been widely published by international media.

On the same day, she added the account as a friend and sent her well wishes.

Mrs Ng said: "I've gone through chemotherapy and cannot afford to give too much, but as a cancer survivor myself, I know how much treatment costs and wanted to help out in whatever little way I can."

On April 30, the user replied, thanking her and asking if she would like to donate.

She readily replied and asked for instructions on where to transfer the money to.

But she grew suspicious when the user asked her to donate to a "team in South Africa".

The account user claimed that many people were trying to donate and that the bank was trying to fix issues, which was why she woud have to donate to his "team in South Africa".

She was also instructed to deposit the money to an account in the name of a "Haruna O Sulaimon".

Mrs Ng told The New Paper: "I don't mind donating, but I got suspicious when he told me to send my money to South Africa."

She told him she would verify his information with the bank and with the local newspapers.


The user replied with several messages, telling her to send the money immediately.

This made her more suspicious and she deleted the account on Facebook.

She has not been contacted since.

In retrospect, she said, the "Stephen's Story" Facebook page had more than 732,000 'likes'. The account she added had fewer than 300 friends.

On his official Facebook page, Stephen has only listed one channel for donations - his fundraising page, at

Mrs Ng said she decided to share her experience to warn others.

She said: "I want to raise awareness, as some people may not think too much before donating or may not verify the information.

"I feel very sad there are people out there trying to take advantage of the suffering of others. It's terrible."

This article was published on May 12 in The New Paper.Get The New Paper for more stories.