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Radio DJ Simon Lim's public Instagram photos stolen by love scammer

SINGAPORE – When ONE FM 91.3 DJ Simon Lim received a letter and a present in his studio, he was pleasantly surprised – until he realised the fan who had sent him the gifts was the victim of a love scam who was nearly duped into parting with almost $5,000 in cash.

The Indonesian fan – Ms Inayah Muhammad, 31 – had written to alert the SPH Radio DJ that a conman had stolen his identity and used his Instagram pictures to try and court her, with the motive to cheat her.

In her letter to Mr Lim dated Oct 7, she said she almost sent close to $5,000 in cash, which the man had asked her to transfer to his bank account but she decided to hold back and do some checks on him. It was then that she found out that she had fallen for the conman’s ruse.

Speaking to The Straits Times, Ms Inayah, who lives in Central Java and works for the Environment Ministry, said the scammer had initially reached out to her over Google Hangouts.

He introduced himself as “Simon Hyanth Lim”, and told tall tales about his life using a false profile with the handle simon-hycinth.

This profile was filled with photos apparently pilfered from Mr Lim’s public Instagram profile, simonlim.personality, to convince Ms Inayah of his legitimacy.

Over the next several weeks, the man fed Ms Inayah random details about himself, telling her he was a 50-year-old Singaporean marine engineer living in the United Kingdom.

He also told Ms Inayah that he had recently divorced his wife, and that he had “inherited” a company from his late father, who had fallen on hard times.

The scammer kept on engaging the single mother of one in chats over WhatsApp, calling her his “queen” and showering her with love and affection.

He also promised to visit her in Indonesia, and even sent photographs of Mr Lim – also taken from the DJ’s public profile – as ” updates” on how his day was going.

“I thought that he was really handsome and we continued to talk, but I was alarmed when he refused to show his face over video call,” said Ms Inayah in English.

The scammer then started to demand money from her – first asking her in early September to transfer $5,000 to him to buy materials for an engineering project in Rochester, UK.

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When she refused, telling the man that she didn’t earn nearly enough and had to care for her four-year-old son, the scammer scaled down the amount and asked her to transfer $100 a week later to a Nigerian bank account. She did not do so.

“I didn’t get the chance to confront him because he blocked me. I then discovered after searching on Instagram that he was a fake, after finding out about the real DJ Simon. They are two totally different people,” she said.

When contacted, Mr Lim told ST that it was not the first time he had spotted fake profiles of himself online, adding that he found it “really scary” to have his identity stolen and his photos used to “catfish” someone and get money.

“I thought that I could live with fake profiles of myself popping up once in a while, if there was no harm done. But when I realised what had happened, I felt angry with this imposter – it was ethically wrong, and I felt the need to warn the public that such things were going on,” Mr Lim said.

“Anyone asking you for money should raise red flags,” Mr Lim advised, adding that he hoped Ms Inayah had found a sense of peace and closure after her brush with the conman.

“I hope that this episode will not make her feel jaded about life and love, and prevent her from giving someone genuine a chance,” he said.

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