Victims meet Google rep to put a stop to advertising tool company’s alleged scam

Hazlini Harun, her husband, and their son have collectively lost over RM200,000 after ‘investing’ in websites, supposedly to enjoy returns via Google Adsense. This, after they signed up for the scheme after downloading the OPS mobile application from Google’s Playstore.

The 52-year-old retiree acknowledges that she will never get her savings back, but is on a mission to ensure that no one else falls victim by downloading the mobile application, allegedly created by an advertising tool company based in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

Hazlini and another victim met Raja Azmi Adam, Google country director for education for Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei, at the tech giant’s Kuala Lumpur office this morning to share their predicament.

“My mission is to stop this (the people behind OPS) … to stop their operations in Vietnam and the Philippines,” said Hazlini.

“They are scamming people, not just in Malaysia, but in those countries, too. I hope Google will be able to help us stop these people (scammers). For starters, they (Google) should remove the mobile application from Google Playstore.”

Hazlini, who lodged a report at the Damansara police station on Jan 7, named the alleged company behind the mobile application, in her report.

“There’s not been any updates from my investigating officer,” she added.

On Jan 18, Twentytwo13 reported that 17 neighbours from a condominium in Damansara Perdana, Selangor, were among hundreds nationwide who claimed to have lost millions of ringgit after ‘investing’ in the scheme that required users to invest in websites to enjoy daily returns.

On Jan 5, the mobile application stopped functioning. On the same day, at 11.58pm, the victims received a message in their OPS Google WhatsApp Group by the group administrator named ‘Olivia’, saying that the WhatsApp group would no longer be available, and for them to contact the administrator for the latest group link. However, no one responded to their phone calls and messages.

Twentytwo13 tried to reach out to the ‘administrators’, including ‘Olivia’, ‘Jeannie’, and ‘Rachel’, but to no avail. It is also understood that an individual, who claimed to be the former secretary of the alleged company, had lodged a police report on Jan 8, denying his involvement in any “scam investment”.

It is believed that 261 people had lost a total of RM3.06 million of their savings. Ninety-three police reports have been lodged nationwide – including in Puchong and Jeram in Selangor, Lumut (Perak), Kubang Semang (Bukit Mertajam, Penang), and Labuan – since the first week of January. Twentytwo13 sighted several of the police reports.

Labuan police confirmed it had received 15 police reports since early this month, including from civil servants, who had collectively lost RM203,507 to the online advertisement tool.

Also at this morning’s meeting were myPPP National Youth chief, S. Sathiah, and several representatives from the political party’s Youth Wing.

“The objective of this meeting is to highlight this scam to Google and alert the public,” myPPP Youth Wing said in a statement, soon after the meeting.

“Raja Azmi said he will bring this matter up with their (Google’s) legal department and will alert their advertising department on such scams that are misusing Google’s name.

“We also highlighted the fact that the scammers had used Google’s name in their marketing tool to attract victims. Many fell into the trap when they heard the big names associated with this business.”

The Youth Wing said it would bring this matter to Bukit Aman’s Commercial Crime Department for further action, and to help the victims recover their money from the local operator.

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