Facepalm: Distance might make the heart grow fonder, but one could argue it also makes the brain grow dimmer. Exhibit A would be the lady who paid $30,000 to bring her love back home from the ISS.
A woman from Japan became enamored with a man on Instagram who claimed to be a Russian cosmonaut stationed on the International Space Station (ISS). Japanese news outlet Yomiuri Shimbun reports that during the very long-distance relationship, the man convinced her that he could not get back home because he could not afford a "return ticket to Earth."
They began their romance on Instagram on June 28, and as love scams go, he was the first to say those three little words that mean so much --- I love you.
"I want to start my life in Japan," he said. "I can't understand it even if I say it 1000 times, but I keep saying it. I love you [machine translated]."
He also told her he wanted to marry her as soon as he was back on Earth but could not afford the ride home.
The woman agreed to send him money to pay for the expensive trip. Between August 19 and September 5, the woman sent the fake astronaut five wire transfers totaling 4.4 million yen ($30,000 US). She finally got suspicious and called the police after the man continued asking for more and more money.
The victim of the out-of-this-world con job was convinced of the scammer's sincerity by the many orbital pictures he posted and his frequent mentions of NASA and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). However, throughout their correspondence, there were several red flags that the lady overlooked.
For example, he claimed a lapse in his messages was caused by the poor cellular reception aboard the ISS. Not only does the ISS have no cellular reception, but its only mode of communication is through agency-controlled satellites with ground personnel.
It is also common knowledge that astronauts stationed on the ISS are sent by their countries on the government's dime. Of course, some confusion is understandable with the privatizing of space flight by companies like Blue Origin and Space X. However, rest assured that whether it's a private company or the government, nobody is buying or selling one-way tickets to space. Well, at least not until we start colonizing something up there, be it the Moon, Mars, or something else.
The Shiga Prefectural Police in Higashiomi City is investigating the crime as an "international romance scam." Authorities have released no other information on their investigation.