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My husband of 50 years has gotten sucked into a Chinese dating site. A woman(?) has 'fallen in love' with him and wants him to open an account at HSBC so she can start a 'fund' for him to give him money. I see RED FLAGS. What kind of a scam is this?

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    Let me get this right...your husband of fifty years is in a relationship with someone from a dating site and your red flags are about money? – DJClayworth Mar 10 at 19:31
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    My husband was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He is a very sick man and does not realize it. During a manic phase he saw a Chinese dating site and got curious. One thing led to another and he fell hook line and sinker. I already know he is not himself and he has been started on medication. However, it's not a magic pill and takes a while to get brain chemicals back in balance. In the meantime, he thinks this Chinese woman is in love with him and THINKS – jerrej Mar 10 at 20:58
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    Yes, If it is a money laundering scam he could go to prison for 10 years! He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you feel depressed and unloved and need to find something to stimulate the neuroreceptors to give you that feel-good feeling you can't obtain. I need to be able to prove this is a scam and he could get in legal trouble. She convinced him she is wealthy and is going to give him lots of money as soon as he opens a bank account with HSBC so she can transfer money to him. You don't stay married to someone for 50 years and then kick them to the curb because they have mental issues. – jerrej Mar 10 at 21:25
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    No apology necessary. He had a terrible childhood and has always had bouts of depression, but as he has gotten older it has manifested into what used to be called Manic Depressive Disorder. I've always been there for him during the dark times, but this is the worst it has been and I just need to show him that he is getting involved with something that could end up beyond his control. – jerrej Mar 10 at 21:52
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    For any question that includes "is this a scam", the answer is almost automatically"yes". – pojo-guy Mar 11 at 1:33
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What kind of a scam is this?

In my opinion, it doesn't really matter how an individual scam works. All people need to know is that if someone actually wanted to send you money (exceedingly unlikely when it comes to strangers on the internet) they could do so without you opening a new bank account, or giving them full access to your existing bank account, or giving them your SSN/Name/Birthday, etc. There are legitimate ways to send money without any of those things, so anything that involves those things is almost certainly a scam.

In very rare cases it can be ignorance about methods for safe money transfer, but in such cases the sender would most likely be receptive to hearing about standard approaches for sending money securely, whereas the scammers will insist on their approach.

In this particular case, it could be money laundering, it could be a grab at a minimum deposit (not applicable with some accounts of course), it could be a step towards a bigger identity-theft scam involving new credit lines, it's hard to say without the scam developing further. When there's no apparent financial risk, that is either coming later or the scam carries other risks (like legal consequences from money laundering).

  • I guess I worded that incorrectly, what I really meant to ask was how does this scam work and how is the perpetrator making money from it. He doesn't believe it's a scam because she is not asking HIM for money, but wants to give HIM money. – jerrej Mar 10 at 16:17
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    @jerrej I added a bit to address that at the end, but ultimately we don't know, you'd have to get in deeper to find out where it goes, but doing so would be unwise. – Hart CO Mar 10 at 16:23
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    Thank you, that is exactly what I think is going on, but he has really fallen for it and thinks she is sending him money to come to China to be with her. She says she is 33 and he is 73! I'm sure he will try to do it, so I moved all of our savings to a secure account he can't touch. I still think he is going to get in too deep and if it's a money laundering scam, he could be left holding the bag not only financially, but legally! He was diagnosed bipolar and I would like to try to save him from himself but don't have a clue how to stop this. Thank you again for helping confirm my suspicions. – jerrej Mar 10 at 16:33
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It's a flavor of scam called a "con". The word "con" is short for "confidence", and the process is simple. The con artist gains the trust of people. It can be those he knows, friends, family, fellow church/synagogue members, etc. They spend some time building some kind of relationship, which eventually involves money, and ultimately the loss of money from the mark (the victim).

Nearly 100% (I can't say '100' because one case proves 100 to be false) of the time, those offering to give money, unrequested, to someone they don't really know, are setting them up for a con. Ultimately steeling their money.

I've met people on line and sent them money. They didn't ask me directly, but either (a) were fundraising for a charity, in one case, it was a charity I already knew, so it wasn't an issue to 'sponsor' them in a road race to support them as an online friend, with money sent right to the charity. (b) Through 3rd party legit organizations such as GoFundMe, in which case, I choose the amount to gift, and the organization at least vets the cause. If I send $100 to a stranger to help with a hospital bill, the GoFundMe org has at least confirmed the details. (c) Sending a small gift to start a new baby college acct. When I saw a mention of this effort, all I needed was an email address. There are many cash transfer services, PayPal being one you might have heard of. To send money, I just enter the recipient's email and off it goes. The red flag is the need for any account to be set up that might require you to give them back information any more private than email. The system is set up this way to help avoid scams. The ability of, say, that new mom to receive cash, is a one way path.

The con can start any number of ways, but again, the red flag is the need to set up a new account.

Congrats on 50 years!

  • Thank you. It looks like it might not make 51! I can't be mad at him because I know he is sick. I just want to protect him and I'm at a complete loss. This scammer has him believing that she is head over heels in love with him and she is the CEO of her father's construction company and very wealthy. I don't know if there is some authority I can report this to and have it investigated or if I just have to let it play out. I guess time will tell. – jerrej Mar 10 at 16:57
  • If I were certain that you could always look over his shoulder I would tell you there is no harm in simply opening up an empty account or one with only say, $100. As soon as sugar mama asks you to make a larger deposit to show “good faith” you will know something is wrong. Or, the other scam path, you see a large deposit maybe $10,000 and you are asked to immediately transfer $9000 somewhere else. There are many variations on this type of con. I am sorry you are going through this. I would look to a family member for more help. – JoeTaxpayer Mar 10 at 17:15
  • Thank you for the advice. I have been researching these scams online and if it's a money laundering scam, he can be the one stuck with federal money laundering charges! I can't believe how many people I am finding that actually fall for these things! – jerrej Mar 10 at 18:00
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    Yes! I cannot count how many times someone will visit this site and ask a question after the fact. We are left to kindly explain to them what they did wrong and whether or not we say it we always think “I wish you came here before making this horrible mistake“. If nothing else, we have a chance to help you keep from losing a dime. It’s a very good feeling to help someone. – JoeTaxpayer Mar 10 at 18:05
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This can be a simple con artist, or something similar to a refund scam. Other answers have explained the con artist type, and I think that is the more probable answer. The later one uses the victim's computer to display an incorrectly sent money by accessing the browser's debug features, and asks the victim to send back the excess amount. Convince him to send some money to their common account, or that she's a victim of a fraud (by showing him the altered webbank page), and send her his own money could be two ways to progress from that point.

A bit offtopic, but you might have done something wrong. You implied that you might file for divorce "It looks like it might not make 51", and also you've moved all your (and your husband's) savings into an account he can't access. Hiding your husband's money during (or before) a divorce procedure - although I understand your reasoning - could be illegal depending on the local law. I guess a lot more people would hide money if that would be legal.

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    LOL, I didn't 'hide' it, I just put it in an account he can't get to! I told him I moved it so he couldn't spend it all buying credits to talk to this scammer! He has already spent thousands to chat with 'her'. I told him I did it to protect our savings until he is better. He is the one talking divorce and he knows I don't want one. I just want him to get better. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that's why he got sucked into this. I'm not worried that it might be illegal, I have a good attorney! – jerrej Mar 10 at 21:32

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