Extorters using obituary info


BY PARVEEN GILL

PETALING JAYA: Unscrupulous people have been extorting money from grieving families by using information obtained from obituaries published in newspapers. 

The money is demanded to ensure their surviving loved ones are not harmed or kidnapped. 

Police uncovered the modus operandi following a report lodged by a factory worker in Puchong, who received a telephone call on Tuesday from an unknown caller demanding that the 34-year-old worker deposit RM1,000 into a bank account to ensure his son's safety. 

OCPD Senior Assistant Commissioner II Ghazali Mohd Amin said the caller threatened to kidnap the worker’s son if he did not do deposit the money. 

He said the worker lodged a report and police advised him not to give in to the demands. 

“The caller seemed to know names of the worker’s family members and the house address. He also told the worker he was aware that one of his relatives had passed away recently. 

“We made a breakthrough when we discovered in our investigations that the worker had placed an obituary of a relative in a newspaper several days earlier. The obituary carried the names of his family members, telephone number and address,” he said. 

SAC Ghazali said that investigations revealed the caller had contacted the victim with a prepaid cellular phone. 

Upon checking the bank account number given, police found a substantial number of transactions involving amounts ranging from several hundred ringgit to more than RM6,000. 

However, SAC Ghazali said that police could not conclude whether the deposits were obtained from extortion or other means, adding that investigations were ongoing. 

“Although there was a similar case reported in our district a month ago, we cannot ascertain if the same person or persons are behind the scam,” he said. 

SAC Ghazali said the district anti-secret society division is investigating the case. 

He appealed to members of the public who receive such calls to lodge reports. 

Police are investigating the case under sections 385 and 511 of the Penal Code for putting fear into a person to commit extortion and attempting to commit offences. 

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