TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An Iranian man married to a Taiwanese woman has been convicted of fraud after posing as a Norwegian and Canadian man and conning four single Taiwanese women into lending him over NT$1 million (US$34,000) before "breaking up" with them.
The 43-year-old Iranian national, who has lived in New Taipei City's Xindian District for 15 years after marrying a Taiwanese woman, was found guilty on Monday (Aug. 10) by a Taipei court of fraud and assault. Four Taiwanese women claim that he posed as either a single Norwegian or Canadian man and cheated them out of an estimated NT$1.35 million before breaking off contact.
According to the judgment, the man acquired Taiwanese citizenship in 2012, and in 2016, he began to call himself "Daniel" (Chinese name 江威隆) and presented himself as a citizen of Norway or Canada on the internet. From 2016 to 2017, he started to use dating apps to meet Taiwanese women and used a number of fake stories, such as losing his wallet, suffering from a brain tumor, or needing to send his ailing grandfather back to his home country to trick them into lending him money.
In one case, a 41-year-old woman surnamed Liang (梁), who met and fell in love with the supposed Norwegian through a mobile dating app, was coaxed by the man through sweet talk to lend him hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese dollars. On July 25, 2017, Liang passed through Taipei's Nanchang Park, where the two had dated before, and she saw Daniel chatting with another Taiwanese woman.
Furious, Liang alerted the police to arrest the fraudster. After Daniel was brought in for questioning, he was found to have had a record of similar offenses in which he cheated at least three other Taiwanese women out of large sums of money.
According to a police investigation, Liang and Daniel first met on the online dating app Badoo in December of 2016. After communicating frequently through the social media app LINE, they met for the first time in Nanchang Park on Dec. 22 of that year.
Liang said the date went very well: Daniel "confessed" that he liked her, and the couple seemed to "fall in love." She said she was greatly moved when Daniel told her that he had told his family on the phone that they were a couple.
On January 20, 2017, Daniel told Liang that he was in urgent need of NT$20,000 to pay a mortgage loan, and she fulfilled his request. Daniel then four times requested more money from Liang for such reasons as paying his mortgage and for repaying a loan from his boss, totaling NT$850,000.
She was unable to contact him until mid-June, causing her to suspect that she had been deceived. Even before she ran into him in the park, she had made up her mind to alert the authorities.
When police took him into custody, Liang learned that he was not Norwegian at all, but rather Iranian. To her surprise, she also learned that he had lived in Taiwan for many years, spoke fluent Mandarin and Taiwanese, and had been married to a Taiwanese woman for 13 years.
Liang and three other victims testified that Daniel would use all sorts of excuses to avoid taking pictures with the women to conceal his identity and would always wear a face mask when he went out. Daniel claimed that he did not know any of his accusers, denied having taken loans from any of them, and insisted that the man shown in screen captures of online conversations with the women was not him.
When asked by prosecutors about the source of his money, Daniel claimed that it came from his income as a "freelancer" in fields such as translation and selling consumer electronics to his countrymen. However, when he was asked to provide details, he could not recall the names of the companies he worked with or claimed to have lost their business cards.
After hearing his case, a Taipei District court convicted the man of three counts of fraud (詐欺罪), one count of attempted fraud (詐欺未遂), and one count of assault (傷害罪), sentencing him to two years and three months in prison. He has already served 40 days in detention, reported SET News.
The decision of the court can still be appealed.