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Thursday December 14, 2006

Conmen posing as matchmakers


KUALA LUMPUR: Some unscrupulous agents have run off with the “dowries” meant for Vietnamese brides whom they have matched with local men. 

These “professional matchmakers” charge a huge amount to provide local men with the girl of their choice. A portion of the fee is supposed to be sent to the girl’s family as “dowry”. 

Van driver Yoon Chee Weng, 44, managed to get a Vietnamese wife, but his in-laws did not get the money. 

MAIL ORDER BRIDES: Tranthicam and Chong looking at the photos of some Vietnamese women who are willing to marry Malaysian men – for a price.
Yoon said he was introduced to an agent by his friends a few months ago and was told he could marry a Vietnamese girl for RM16,300 (after a RM500 discount). 

Thinking it was a good deal, Yoon picked Tranthicam Huang, 29, from one of the photos shown to him. 

“I paid the agent in three instalments within four days and was promised that part of the fee would go as dowry to my wife’s family in Vietnam,” he said.  

“But the money, about RM7,000, never reached my in-laws. And there is no way of getting the money back as the agent has disappeared,” he said.  

Yoon said he had only agreed to pay the fee in full after being assured that the dowry would be paid.  

Tranthicam said her family back home needed the money because they were very poor.  

She added that it was obvious they had been conned. 

According to a registered agent, the majority of these matchmakers would set up home offices and have profiles of Vietnamese, Cambodian and even Thai women. 

“When a man walks in, he gets to choose the girl he wants as his wife. Once that is completed, we will fly in the girl and the couple will get registered,” said the agent. 

“We get paid the fee and that is the end of the deal,” he said, adding that the agents would usually fulfil the terms and conditions that came along with the “transaction” such as delivering the dowry, and paying for certain expenses incurred in the process. 

“It is important to the men that all payments including the dowry be paid properly because there have been cases where the ‘future’ brides did not show up or even if they did, they would run away after realising that their families had not been paid,” the agent added. 

The unnamed agent warns of many confidence tricksters who are out to make easy money from these men and women. 

“Always ensure that everything is in black and white and that the agent is registered,” he advised. 

MCA Public Services and Complaints Bureau head Datuk Michael Chong said: “It has become a trend for local men to tie the knot with foreign women and most of these men seek their wives through the services of agents. But little do they know that some of these agents are conmen. 

“Yes, they deliver the girl but they overcharge and almost always, they run away with the money without fulfilling their commitments.”  

Chong urged Malaysian men to be more careful when engaging such services, and if possible not to seek the services of these agents.  

“Some of these foreign girls are under-aged and the men only come to know about it when problems start piling up after their marriage has been sealed,” he warned. 

“Our local women are just as good. Marry local girls and save yourselves from being conned.”  

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