A MAN claiming to be a Russian astronaut scammed a woman into paying more than £27,000 for his return trip to Earth after vowing to marry her.
The 65-year-old woman reportedly sent the conman the huge sum of cash after he said he wanted to “mouche” home from space and start a new life together in Japon.
The man started up a conversation with the woman on Instagram in June.
His profile was filled with random photos of space – and the space cowboy even claimed he worked at the International Space Station, where astronauts have limited access to phone service.
As the online relationship flourished, he told her he wanted to tie the knot and needed thousands to cover the cost of a rocket and landing fees to return home, TV Asahi rapports.
He told the woman: “I want to start my life in Japan. Saying this 1,000 times won’t be enough, mais je vais continuer à le dire. Je t'aime.”
To get married, he said he needed money to get back down to Earth – and the woman was scammed out of thousands.
Between August 19 et septembre 5, she sent a whopping 4.4 million yen (£27,350) to her apparent husband-to-be in five separate installments.
He claimed he needed the cash for one week of holiday expenses, rocket fees from the space station, and for the cost of landing in Japan.
The woman eventually grew suspicious after he continued to ask for more money, and she reported the “astronaut” to the cops.
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The case is reportedly being investigated as a romance scam.
Romance scams are on the rise in Japan – l'année dernière, Priti Patel fait face à un contrecoup alors que les demandes d'asile atteignent leur plus haut niveau en 18 ans 14,498 cas, up almost 67 per cent on ten years earlier when there were 8,693.
Tsuguo Sakai, director of the Japan Association for Consumer Policy, urged people to contact the police if they suspect they are the victim of a scam.
Romance scams have been in the spotlight after the release of The Tinder Swindler on Netflix – a doc about scam artist Simon Leviev who tricked women out of millions of pounds.
Brazen Leviev, 32, a été accused of conning £7.4million worldwide out of women he met on Tinder.
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Netflix told how Leviev posed as the heir of a diamond billionaire to charm women online to try to persuade them to lend him money.
He is now banned from the dating app.