Japanese woman loses millions in intergalactic romance scam

A woman from Japan transferred 4.4 million yen to a man who said he was stuck on an International Space Station (ISS) and needed money for a rocket back to earth so he could marry her.

The 65 year old woman, from Shiga Prefecture, told police that she fell in love with a man she met online in June and talked with via the Line application. She thought he was out of this world. Just one small thing was stopping them from getting married – he was in space.

In August, he told her that he couldn’t wait any longer and wanted to return to earth to marry her. However, he said astronauts on the ISS needed to pay their way home, and he didn’t have enough money – despite being in a fairly high-paid profession.

The “astronaut” said he needed enough to cover “the cost of a rocket back to earth and landing fees.”

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Blinded by love, the woman did no basic fact-checking to legitimize his claim and sent five bank transfers within five days, totalling 4.4 million Yen (US$30,000).

But when he requested even more money, she grew suspicious and went to the police. The police found that while the scammer is on earth, he isn’t in Japan, so justice probably won’t be served in this case.

Some netizens expressed sympathy, but others don’t feel sorry for her for falling for such an outlandish scam. Netizens think it’s her that needs to come back to earth…

“It’s a real-life space opera.”

“Love really is blind.”

“I think they intentionally made the story ridiculous so when the victim finally does find out they’re more likely to be too embarrassed to report it.”

Love makes people do crazy things. In March, a Vietnamese man attempted to paddle from Phuket to India – a distance of 2500 kilometres – to meet his lover who he met online.

Had he not been rescued by Thai marines after 18 days, he would have died. He only made it 80km from the coast.

Once he shared a photo of his lover with Thai media, he soon discovered he had been ‘catfished.’ Everyone instantly recognised her as the famous Indian actress Divyanka Tripathi Dahiya, who is already married.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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