The Star’s R. Mathivanan was among those who have been duped by scammers. He tells the story of how he fell for it, and ended up RM60,000 poorer.
IT was a time when I was about to get all my finances in order. I had obtained a RM50,000 personal loan and was planning to pay off all my debts and just service this one loan.
It was surreal that, just two days after the money had been banked in, I got the call.
I remember it was a hot afternoon two months ago – so hot that my mind was probably dulled.
The caller identified himself as a call centre representative from my bank and wanted to confirm if I had made a particular purchase on my credit card.
I hadn’t. I didn’t even have a credit card from that bank.
I asked the caller if I should lodge a police report but he said I should report the matter to Bank Negara instead and gave me a number to call.
He said it was very likely I had been a victim of identity theft and should protect my bank account immediately.
I panicked and called the number given. And the trapdoor opened.
I was told to expect calls from two other people “who would help me”.
A man called and asked me to listen to a recording about Bank Negara regulations on money laundering.
He warned me that I could be charged with making a false report and that I must not to reveal the matter to anyone, otherwise the “investigation can be jeopardised”.
The next call was from a man who identified himself as a “senior officer”. He said I would have to reset my ATM card without consulting with or informing any bank officer.
I went to an ATM at my bank and called the “senior officer” as instructed. He wanted to know exactly how much I had in my account.
All the while, I had to keep the call going on my phone.
I was given several account numbers to transfer the money into. I made several transactions.
The man on the phone said my money would be safe in these accounts and he wanted me to tear up the banking slips. That was the one thing I did not do.
I was given another number to call, this one purportedly to an automated service at the Bank Negara depository, and told to await the outcome of the investigation.
I dialled the number and a recorded voice confirmed the total amount that had been deposited.
The “senior officer” didn’t get back to me. So after three worrisome days, I called his number. He kept hanging up on me.
That’s when it dawned on me that something was amiss.
After looking up the Bank Negara phone number, I called and reported the incident. That’s when I got the bitter news – I had been scammed.
I lodged a police report and another report with Bukit Aman’s Commercial Crime Division. The banking slips showed I had been scammed but they were of little help in any other way.
I am now RM60,000 poorer and still servicing a loan of which I did not see a single sen. But I am a wiser person now.