No matter how smart and aware you are, you can get scammed. We have people in our family cleaning up after some bank fraud right now. Scam busting people have been tricked. Things happen. Sometimes rather sophisticated things. And then there’s this.
The pair started corresponding through Instagram on June 28, and the scammer claimed that he was a cosmonaut on board the International Space Station (ISS). He blamed the poor cell service aboard the orbiting space station for his lack of communication at times. Things between them quickly escalated when the fake astronaut professed his love to her, claiming that he would want to marry her once back on Earth. Except there was one problem, he simply could not get off the ISS unless he had enough money for a ride back to Earth.
In order to rendezvous with her online lover, the woman ended up sending him 4.4 million yen (about $30,000) so that he could hop on a rocket and leave the microgravity environment behind, Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported. However, even long-distance love has a price limit, and the victim soon grew tired of the astronaut’s increasing monetary demands. After making a total of five money transfers between August 19 and September 5, she finally reported him to the police.
Credit to her for finally wising up, but this feels like one of those things that five, maybe ten seconds of thought tops could have prevented.
The cell phone thing, ok, I’ll let you have that. The space station doesn’t use a regular cell network, but it’s at least plausible to think that it might. We do have a lot of things in our lives because of space exploration. But reports say that the woman was also taken in by photos of space on the guy’s Instagram and by the fact that he knew the names of various space agencies. Just wait until she hears about Google.
But even that isn’t the worst of our problems.
I know governments tend to suck in a whole lot of ways, but unless a bunch of us missed a pretty important memo, going to space as an astronaut is still a round trip that they pay for. Even if you’re one of those rich assholes who buys his own seat on a rocket, they don’t leave you up there even though they should.