Sav­ing our sav­ings from the scam­mers

The Star Malaysia - - Nation -

IT of­ten starts the same way. A per­son calls, claim­ing to be a po­lice per­son­nel, Bank Ne­gara of­fi­cial and even a com­mer­cial bank of­fi­cer.

The one re­ceiv­ing that call has been iden­ti­fied as be­ing “in­volved” in a crime or fac­ing prob­lems with his or her bank ac­counts.

They are then re­quired to trans­fer a cer­tain sum of money to a spe­cific bank ac­count.

Be­fore they know what hit them, the vic­tims would have banked in their money. And it’s gone – in this wide-rang­ing scam dubbed as Ma­cau scam.

Some­times vic­tims are in­formed that they have won a prize in a lucky draw com­pe­ti­tion but have to pay a cer­tain amount of tax be­fore they can claim it.

Or that some­one has been kid­napped and they have to pay a ran­som.

There is no such kid­nap­ping but they prey on the emo­tions of the vic­tims who do not stop to think.

In all such in­stances, the phone num­bers used are mim­icked and cloned num­bers of ac­tual en­ti­ties such as Bukit Aman and Bank Ne­gara, us­ing the Voice Over In­ter­net Pro­to­col (VOIP).

These peo­ple prey on the vic­tims’ des­per­a­tion, sense of panic – and greed. Mil­lions of ring­git have been lost as vic­tims fol­lowed the in­struc­tions given by the scam­mers.

Count­less po­lice re­ports have been lodged and many such scams have been high­lighted in the me­dia but the num­ber of vic­tims keeps on grow­ing.

It’s quite as­ton­ish­ing that peo­ple can be so gullible.

More of­ten than not, the scam ends when the vic­tims trans­fer their sav­ings to a bank ac­count op­er­ated by the scam­mers.

Re­cently, things have got worse. The syn­di­cates are even re­sort­ing to ab­duct­ing peo­ple and forc­ing them to work as their call­ers.

Sev­eral Malaysians were found to have been forced to work for a Ma­cau scam syn­di­cate in Bangkok.

Six young Malaysians were forced to bilk money for the syn­di­cate, tar­get­ing Malaysians. They were lured to Bangkok, Thai­land with job of­fers but were then turned into forced labour.

With the peo­ple re­main­ing gullible, the syn­di­cates are be­com­ing bolder. The Royal Malaysia Po­lice have al­ways taken ac­tion against such syn­di­cates, mas­ter­minded by those from Tai­wan and China, but they keep ris­ing in new forms.

This year, 50 peo­ple were ar­rested in Pe­nang in July – by far the largest bust on Ma­cau scam syn­di­cates. They had duped more than 80 vic­tims and reaped close to RM3mil.

Our law en­force­ment agen­cies can keep crack­ing down on these scam­mers but the peo­ple have to play a part too.

We can start by ac­quir­ing knowl­edge on such scams.

Ex­cuses in­clud­ing that such in­for­ma­tion is hard to come by is not ac­cept­able. Main- stream me­dia out­lets as well as their on­line coun­ter­parts have con­tin­u­ously high­lighted case af­ter case of Ma­cau scams.

For one thing, PDRM and Bank Ne­gara do not usu­ally con­duct an en­tire in­ves­ti­ga­tion over the phone, or ask you to trans­fer money to them. Any­thing like that can be done at the sta­tion or at Bank Ne­gara of­fices.

There is no rea­son to blindly fol­low in­struc­tions given by an un­known caller, es­pe­cially when you have done no wrong.

Se­nior Bukit Aman of­fi­cer Se­nior Asst Comm Datuk As­mawati Ah­mad has also re­minded the pub­lic to ver­ify the authen­tic­ity of calls claim­ing to be from the po­lice or any fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions by call­ing the real phone num­bers of Bank Ne­gara and the po­lice, not the num­bers given by the scam­mers.

The time for ig­no­rance or the “tidak apa” at­ti­tude must end. As mem­bers of the pub­lic, we have to heed the warn­ings and re­main vig­i­lant.

It is our sav­ings that we are pro­tect­ing.

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