Technology gets smarter, so do scammers

05 May 2022 06:00pm
Number of scam cases reported in the media was getting more rampant with swindled money amounting to millions of ringgits.
Number of scam cases reported in the media was getting more rampant with swindled money amounting to millions of ringgits.

As technology gets smarter, irresponsible parties also become more resourceful to scam people out of the latter’s hard-earned money.

Of late, the number of scam cases reported in the media was getting more rampant with swindled money amounting to millions of ringgits.

Some scammers were still using the old-school method through phone calls, disguised as a member of authorities such as the police, Bank Negara Malaysia, Inland Revenue Board (IRB) or even a representative from the Court to dupe unsuspecting victims.

The calls were usually made using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) which allowed them to mask their phone numbers to make it seem like the calls came locally or made it seems like a legitimate official number.

This type of scam is known as the Macau scam.

Personally, I have tagged along with several raids by the police’s Commercial Crime Investigation Department during my stint as a crime reporter and one that stuck with me the most was a raid at a Macau scam operation centre based in a luxury three-storey bungalow in Gombak a few years back.

The whole bungalow was set up to be a proper office, with each ‘employee’ having their workstation, phone lines and equipped with scripts of what they were disguised as.

For this case, the syndicate members were flown in from China, but they were trained to speak in English or Bahasa to match their target audience – the Malaysians.

Related Articles:

The whole set-up was so professionally done that if I had walked into the bungalow without the police’s raiding party, I would have thought it was a legit start-up company.

Now that was at least five years ago, and countless awareness programmes were done to ensure that the public did not fall victims to these scams again, but over the years, many cases were still reported.

On April 18, a human resource manager lost RM132,900 in a Macau scam after being duped by a man who claimed to be an officer from the health ministry over allegedly getting an extra medicine supply at a community clinic.

On April 6, a teacher in Seremban lost RM276,000 after she was duped into believing that she was involved in a cheating case by an individual who claimed to be from the Health Ministry.

In Ranau, a hotel manager lost RM444,600 to a man who claimed to be an IRB officer. The caller informed the victim that his name was used to set up a company and had tax arrears of RM26,000.

In all cases, scare tactics were used and when they did not believe the caller, the calls were connected to a ‘police officer’ who convinced the victims that arrest warrants would be issued if the cases were not settled.

Police revealed that 1,585 Macau scam cases were reported last year with losses totalling RM560 million.

Besides using phone calls for Macau scam, some scammers used social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Tinder to lure their victims into believing that they were attractive females or males looking for love in the cyber world.

Classified as a love scam, the scammers preyed on lonely and vulnerable victims to swindle their money, just like what was portrayed in Netflix’s television series Tinder Swindler.

Just recently, a 63-year-old widow was reported to have lost a whopping RM3.9 million to a man he met on Instagram on March 21.

Another woman was swindled RM152,500 by a man who claimed that he would marry her and the money was to be used for their wedding preparations.

On April 8, Sinar Daily reported that a technician had lost RM222,473 in a ‘love scam’ after falling for a woman he met through Facebook.

The scammers used the same modus operandi of getting to know their victims through social media, took their time to earn their trust and charmed their way to swindle money from the unsuspecting victims.

Aside from love scams, scammers also used social media platforms to advertise job offers in foreign countries such as Australia, where the victims were charged up to RM1,400 for visa applications.

On April 29, police arrested seven men and two women for suspicion of being a part of a syndicate offering fake job offers.

Reports were lodged by 1,023 people with the Australian high commission, while police received 28 reports about losses amounting to RM155,472 Another type of scam that emerged during the festive season involved fraudulent sales of clothing and other items for the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration this year.

Police have received 22 reports of such cases involving losses of RM19,773 where victims did not receive the items purchased after the payments were made online.

Although the total losses for these types of scams were not as huge as Macau and love scams, the issue remained that scammers were taking advantage of unsuspecting victims, which has to stop.

The government, through its enforcement agencies and commission had tirelessly conducted awareness programmes and tried to find solutions to curb any types of scams from happening. While the programmes might reach the urbanites, perhaps roving teams should be deployed to focus on educating those in villages.

To curb Macau scam, The Star reported that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) was working with the police and telecommunication service providers to nip such scam cases in the bud with the introduction of “technical barriers”, which identified and automatically block calls from scammers before they even reached the potential victims.

Thus far, 1.6 billion scam calls including those made via VoIP had already been blocked by the barriers.

Other than that, the government, police and MCMC should consider using the same platforms as the scammers such as Facebook, Instagram and Tinder. I know that postings were made on their official social media to warn people about these scams, but many features could be tapped into, such as sponsored postings to reach even more individuals and create more awareness.

Most importantly, it was up to the individuals to be vigilant and not be gullible when faced with questionable situations.

Remember that banks or government institutions would never ask for credit card numbers or personal details over the phone, it would usually be done via email or face-to-face.

When meeting someone new on social media, always remember to do proper background checks and try to meet the person in public to find out if the stranger you connected with were really who they said they were.

In this day, anyone could hide behind their computer screen and pretend to be someone they were not. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably was.

If you think that you were a victim of a scam, or about to be, contact the CCID Scam Response Center at 03-26101559 or 03-26101599 or check on bank accounts and telephone numbers that were possibly used for criminal activities at

Government and enforcement agencies could do millions of awareness programmes, but if we did not educate ourselves and be more alert, then all the efforts would be down the drain and our hard-earned money would go to the scammers’ bank accounts.

More Like This