Dating site ruse to extort victims

A laptop displaying the website for Eteract online dating site, while in the background, a woman and a man chat with each other.

Online dating that allows users to contact and get to know one another has turned into a trap to lure potential victims of assault, robbery and extortion, reported Harian Metro.

Racketeers use sexy women and good-looking men to get friendly with prospective victims over Facebook and to arrange intimate encounters between them. When the time is set and the place fixed, the victim will turn up to meet his or her date.

However, during the meeting, the date would suddenly raise the alarm of being molested or annoyed and a group of so-called family members would immediately turn up to surround the unsuspecting victim and ask for a compensation.

In cases reported to police, victims said they were beaten up and extorted of between RM3,000 (S$1,200) and RM5,000.

In a recent case, a 40-year-old self-employed man, who gave his name only as Amin, said he lost more than RM5,000 as his smartphone was also seized by the syndicate, believed to comprise five to seven members.

He said he befriended a young man called Danial, in his 20s, through Facebook early this year. Amin said early this month they agreed to meet at a restaurant in Semenyih.

"After chatting for about 30 minutes, Danial suddenly cried out that I had molested him. Five minutes later four men appeared, claiming to be the suspect's father and brothers.

"I denied the accusation but they didn't care and started to assault me. They then asked for 'compensation' and took away my smartphone," added Amin, who later lodged a report at a nearby police station.

Another victim, Azman, 25, said he paid a hefty price after getting to know a young woman on Facebook and meeting her later at Chow Kit in Kuala Lumpur.

"We first talked outside her house and then she invited me in. Ten minutes later, four men appeared and one of them claimed to be her husband.

"They beat me up and took RM3,000 and my phone for allegedly molesting the woman," he said, adding that he later lodged a report at the Dang Wangi police station.

The group, believed to have been active in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur over the past year, is said to have deceived at least 20 people.