The con artist claimed he was stationed at the International Space Station and had to pay his way back to Earth
Japanese police are investigating an alleged “romance scam” after a local woman was duped into paying some 4.4 million yen ($30,000) to a person claiming to be a ‘Russian cosmonaut’ working at the International Space Station (ISS) – and needing money to return back to Earth.
The bizarre scheme began in July and was reported this week by local media. The victim, a 65-year-old woman from the central Shiga Prefecture, got acquainted with the alleged swindler on social media, police told the journalists. The scammer, whose profile was full of various space pictures, claimed to be a “Russian cosmonaut” currently stationed at the ISS.
The woman took the bait and communicated with the scammer for weeks through the messaging app Line before their relationship turned into a fairly standard, yet space-flavored, marriage scam. The con artist repeatedly told the woman he loved her and insisted he wanted to start a new “life in Japan” and promised the woman that he would marry her.
“Will you marry me when I arrive in Japan? I love you,” the phony spacefarer reportedly told his victim on multiple occasions.
Before doing so, however, he had to return to Earth first, the faux cosmonaut told his victim, claiming he had to pay rocket expenses for his return and massive “landing fees.” The woman believed the story and transferred some 4.4 million yen ($30,000) to the scammer.
While the sum requested was already astronomical, her would-be-groom continued to demand more money for his purported space-faring endeavors. The woman ultimately grew suspicious and reported the whole affair to the police.
The woman might not be the only victim of the scheme, local media suggested. TV Asahi spoke to a Japanese woman in her 40s who claimed she had also been contacted on Instagram by a man pretending to be a Russian cosmonaut. The would-be scammer tried to guide the potential victim to the same messaging app Line, yet the woman refused and severed contact with the individual.
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