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Jennifer Chen, whose name has been changed, accepted a friend request and thought nothing more of it.

A year later, that choice had cost the 61-year-old Australian nearly $600,000.

'Dr Frank Harrison' had told her was an orthopaedic surgeon from the US, but his profile was actually a front for a team of scammers.

The photo the fraudsters used was actually of weight loss expert Dr Garth Davis.

Davis runs into this problem so regularly, he wrote a Facebook post warning people to be wary of accounts using his picture.

The scam started in early November when 'Dr Harrison' told Chen he was thinking of moving to Australia to start a business and wanted to meet her in person.

Chen told news.com.au that she then received a phone call from him.

She said:

He told me 'I'm at the airport in KL, I got in trouble'. 

I said 'What kind of trouble?'

He said 'I carried 1.5 million US dollars through customs. They think I'm carrying too much cash.

I got big penality. Please help me. 

A woman then phoned pretending to work for customs - and Chen was eventually convinced to pay a $3,000 'penalty fee' so the rest of his money would be released.

She said:

The customs officer girl, she told me stuff that sounds very true.

I really believe. 

The deception accelerated. Soon, the con artists were asking for larger sums with wilder excuses.

Within six months, Chen had been convinced to make 33 payments.

Chen said:

My psychology is I already pay the money to him. 

The girl tell me once you pay this you will get the money back, customs will release the luggage to him. 

I didn't wake up. 

I didn't realise both of them are group scam.

I also scared to tell my husband. 

Finally I had to tell my husband I made a big mistake. 

By the time she opened up to her husband, she had paid the scammers $571,000 - her entire life savings.

Chen's husband told news.com.au that she was targeted for her naivety.

He said:

The scammers use Facebook information to pick their targets. 

They have a team that play different roles to manipulate the emotions of the victim. 

HT news.com.au

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