Radio DJ Simon Lim's public photos used in 'catfishing' scam

One FM 91.3 DJ Simon Lim received a letter from an Indonesian woman, who almost lost $5,000, alerting him to the scam.
One FM 91.3 DJ Simon Lim received a letter from an Indonesian woman, who almost lost $5,000, alerting him to the scam.PHOTO: SIMON LIM/FACEBOOK

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 had been on the verge of becoming the victim of a love scam and was nearly duped into parting with almost $5,000 in cash.

The Indonesian fan - Ms Inayah Muhammad, 31 - had written to alert the Singapore Press Holdings radio DJ that a conman had stolen his identity and used his Instagram pictures to try and court her, with the motive to cheat.

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 had decided to hold back and do some checks on him. It was then that she found out she had nearly fallen for the conman's ruse.

Speaking to The Sunday 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 on Instagram with the handle simon-hycinth.

This profile, which has since been removed, was filled with photos apparently pilfered from Mr Lim's public Instagram profile, simonlim.personality, to convince Ms Inayah of his legitimacy.

Over several weeks, the man fed Ms Inayah random details, telling her he was a 50-year-old Singaporean marine engineer living in Britain. He also told Ms Inayah that he had recently divorced his wife, and that he had "inherited" a company from his late father.

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 early last month to transfer $5,000 to him to purchase materials for an engineering project in the British town of Rochester.

When she refused, telling the man that she did not earn 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.

Ms Inayah said: "I didn't get the chance to confront him because he blocked me."

When contacted, Mr Lim told The Sunday Times 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 for 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 impostor - it was ethically wrong.

"Anyone asking you for money should raise red flags," Mr Lim said, adding that he hoped Ms Inayah had found peace and closure after her brush with the conman.

"I hope this episode will not make her feel jaded about life and love, and prevent her from giving someone genuine a chance."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 25, 2020, with the headline 'Radio DJ Simon Lim's public photos used in 'catfishing' scam'. Subscribe