Lam Thye: Go hard on Macau, love scams

There are six individuals of different ages and backgrounds. The youngest is a 28-year-old doctor while the oldest is a 90-year-old woman.

They all have one thing in common – they have been victims of Macau and love scams in recent weeks. And the total amount lost by the six is RM7.19 million.

Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation senior vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye admitted awareness programmes have somewhat not been effective and said it was time for the government to get aggressive in addressing the menace.

“The victims are not illiterates. Some are doctors, accountants and other professionals, yet they get conned,” said Lee.

“The time has come for the government, the Home Affairs Ministry and Communications and Multimedia Ministry included, to work hand-in-hand and beef up the policing of such cyber crimes.

“It’s serious enough to warrant a discussion by the Cabinet. This matter must be raised and highlighted and the government must take a serious stand and be aggressive in eradicating the menace.”

Macau scams see callers identifying themselves as postal, court, Inland Revenue Board or enforcement officials, claiming the receiver had important documents uncollected or could be jailed for not settling ‘outstanding summonses’.

Victims, due to fear or ignorance, would often transfer money to the syndicates through bank accounts only to later realise they had been duped.

MCPF set up a committee last year to tackle the Macau Scam problem and create awareness among the public but Lee anticipated more people will fall victim in coming weeks and months due to the present economic climate.

“Times are bad and some people will be gullible enough to believe these scams, thinking they will be able to make money quickly or being afraid that they may be penalised for something they didn’t do to begin with.

“People are lonely too and they would end up spending time talking to someone who shows artificial love. They fall in love and easily part with their money.”

He added such a matter cannot be left to the police alone.

“NGOs like us have no enforcement power but we need to play our part and organise more awareness programmes to continue reminding people about such scams.”

In 2017, police recorded 4,500 scam cases using telephone calls and the short message service (SMS) with a total loss of RM113.11 million.
Bukit Aman CCID director Datuk Seri Mohd Zakaria Ahmad was quoted last year as saying victims lost some RM2 billion since 2015 due to commercial crimes, including Macau Scam and loan package or investment schemes which did not exist.

These are the six Macau and love scams reported in recent weeks:

Young doctor RM93k poorer

On June 23, a 28-year-old doctor was told he owed the Inland Revenue Board money and was linked to a criminal case. The victim from Negeri Sembilan quickly deposited RM92,800 in several bank accounts in stages. He lodged a police report the same day after realising he had been duped.

Nonagenarian duped of RM3.83 million

A 90-year-old woman was warned by a ‘police officer’ that she had committed an offence. She made cash transactions to seven different company accounts, from April 20 to June 15, amounting to RM3.83 million. She lodged a report on June 28.

Businessman loses RM2.8 million

A 52-year-old businessman lodged a police report on July 1 claiming he lost some RM2.8 million to a Macau scam syndicate. The victim said he was tricked by two people who claimed to be a police officer and a Pos Laju representative.

Ex-army clerk cheated

A former Armed Forces clerk was cheated of RM25,000 after the 62-year-old received a phone call on July 2 saying her name had been used by a crime syndicate.

RM333k lesson for teacher

A 51-year-old teacher in Changlun lost RM333,000. The teacher received a phone call on June 29 from someone claiming to be a Pos Malaysia employee and was later connected to an ‘Inspector Mazlan’ from the Seremban Contingent Police Headquarters. The victim was told he was involved in a drug trafficking syndicate. An ‘Inspector Chong’ then offered to help the victim and the money was transfered from June 29 to July 3 (37 transactions to four bank accounts). On July 6, the victim was informed he was convicted by the court and the suspect had asked for RM100,000 bail. The victim then realised he had been duped.

Expensive love affair for teacher

A 37-year-old teacher from Kepala Batas lodged a police report on July 10 after realising she had been duped by her Telegram lover who claimed to be an “American soldier”. The two had been communicating since May through the instant messaging application and even intended to tie the knot. The victim made 17 transactions to a bank account amounting to RM112,000. The teacher was then unable to communicate with her ‘lover’ and realised she had been duped.